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Tuesday, 9 September 1958
Page: 948

Mr DAVIDSON - I shall answer one particular phase of the honorable member's question first. The honorable member asked whether I considered the criticism that has been offered in some places against this new system to be soundly based. My reply is that, as a result of my own investigations of the proposals. I do not consider that such criticism is soundly based. The matter has been dealt with in this House on previous occasions, and it has been pointed out that the proposed alteration in the system of numbering various subscriber services arises from the department's plans to extend automatic telephone dialling throughout Australia. The project is a long-range one, and a number of matters that have a bearing on it will need to be attended to over a period. The alteration of the method of numbering subscriber services is one of those matters.

Several months ago, the department appointed a special committee to study this matter thoroughly. As a result of that committee's investigations, the department is quite satisfied that the proposed system has very great advantages over the present system. If the honorable member would like me to go into further detail as to those advantages, I shall be glad to do so, but it would take rather longer than is proper when answering a question. It is sufficient to say that I consider that in this matter the department, in its forward planning, has demonstrated the capacity that it has shown in other things to keep well abreast of the latest developments in technological science, and that in instituting this change it is well ahead of current practices throughout the world.

Finally, I point out that the change was instituted in the Sydney area some time last year in the Cronulla exchange. I think that the honorable member will find that there has been no great objection in the Cronulla area to this change. Also, within the last month or two, the change has been introduce in the Brisbane directory. There was a great deal of criticism in Brisbane similar to that mentioned by the honorable member, but in the last few weeks I have discovered that the department's former critics are now saying, " We are sorry; you were right ".

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