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Wednesday, 28 September 1949

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - The Postal Department has something to explain. Perhaps the honorable member for Eden-Monaro could inform me whether the Australian Labour party in Canberra is a telephone subscriber? Is it listed in the telephone book?

Mr FRASER - I think that the secretary is listed.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I contend that the Australian Labour party, as a telephone subscriber, is not entitled t» more consideration than is any other subscriber. The proper way in which to publicize changes of telephone numbers is by making alterations to the telephone book. That is what telephone books are for. It is utterly wrong and immoral for the Postal Department to give to any political party, organization or individual information about telephone numbers before that information has been made available to the public. Unless things have changed since I was PostmasterGeneral' - doubtless they have changed for the worse - the list of silent numbers is not kept in the same book as that in which the list of other .telephone numbers is kept. If information about silent numbers was contained in a list of ordinary numbers, that must have been done deliberately. I am well aware that there are more than two silent numbers in Canberra. It would be interesting to know something about the two silent numbers to which the Minister has referred, and to learn why they were included in the list of public numbers.

Mr Calwell - With whom does the honorable member bet on a Saturday?

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I do not bet with anybody. In my opinion, too much betting goes on in this place. I say that the people who are responsible for .keeping order here are not doing so.

The Minister has said that each person in Canberra whose number was changed was advised of that fact 'by letter. I make no complaint about that, but I point out that if a telephone system is to function properly it is important that subscribers whose numbers have not been changed shall he informed of the changes that have been made to other numbers. If that were not done, much time would be wasted in transferring calls to the subscribers with whom the callers wish to be connected. With an automatic system, a ridiculous position would arise if details of altered numbers were not made available to all subscribers.

The Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral has not given. a satisfactory explanation of the matters to which the honorable member for Wentworth ;has referred. I say that they cannot he explained satisfactorily and that something maliciously and deliberately immoral occurred in connexion with the supply of information by the Postal Department to certain selected persons and authorities, while the rank-and-file subscribers were allowed to go hang. That is not in accordance with the traditions of the department.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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