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Thursday, 11 September 1958
Page: 1181

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) .- I cannot agree with the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) when he says that Australian television programmes are cheap and nasty. In Melbourne, especially, they are of a very high standard indeed. Those who are associated with the technical development of television, both in the Australian Broadcasting Commission and in. the commercial field, are to be. congratulated upon, the skill that they have shown. Those who are behind, th,e scenes, and select the. programmes; equally deserve congratulation.

Imust confess tha* I. watch television occasionally. Indeed, my wife and children have it on, and I have no choice. I see the programmes that they select from the three channels, and they are of a very high standard. For instance, I can recommend Palladin in " Have gun, will travel ". It is as good a half hour programme as can be seen anywhere. It is, of course, a film, but there is also., at about the same time, the live show " In Melbourne To-night ". That show has a totally Australian cast and features a personality called " Graham ", who recently returned after some months in the United States. Last Saturday night, he was back on his old programme and I would be surprised if a single television receiver in the whole of Melbourne was not tuned in to his show. He has proved himself capable of attracting and holding the public interest through high-grade entertainment. I; may mention that he. is also assisted by a most attractive person known as " Panda ".

Any one who criticizes the standard of our television programmes, in Melbourne at any rate, is humbugging. I am sure that their technical excellence could not be bettered anywhere else in the world. Australian television is still in its infancy, but already it is of an excellent standard. The alternative programme provided by Station ABV2 is also very good, and the Australian Broadcasting Commission is to be commended for its live drama productions featuring Australian characters. The plays are almost always of very high quality - perhaps even higher than that of the imported films which are sometimes shown on television.

The Australian Broadcasting Commission, of course, has had great experience in the sound transmission field. Television must have drained off many of its skilled technicians and actors, but the standard of sound transmission has remained very high. The only complaint that is levelled at it is one over which the commission has no control, lt cannot provide the third programme type of entertainment while Parliament is being broadcast.

My main purpose in speaking is to emphasize, in common with other honorable members, the problem of representing an electorate which combines outer metropolitan areas and close country areas. My constituents number about 64,000. Many people are not yet on the roll, either because they have neglected to place themselves on it, are English migrants who have not been in Australia for the requisite period of six months, or are among the vast body of new Australians who have not yet applied for naturalization. In short, the adult population of the electorate of Bruce is in the vicinity of 80,000 or 90,000.

It is inevitable that such a large body of people should, between them, produce a vast number of applications for telephones. The telephone has come to be an essential part of community life. A person who cannot ring his mother, father, brother, sister or friend for personal reasons considers himself quite isolated. A person who is conducting a business and is unable to obtain telephonic communication suffers very drastically indeed. In the Dandenong region there has been tremendous industrial development almost from Berwick through to Oakleigh and along the railway line from Huntingdale to the General MotorsHolden's plant east of Dandenong, and this has brought with it not only an obvious need for business telephones but also a great demand for that amenity on the part of new residents. The Postmaster-General's Department, to a great degree, alleviated a problem which would have been more immense than it is now, by providing, in the case of the big industrial concerns, a direct channel line from the areas which normally are served by an automatic switch. The department installed a direct cable line to the automatic exchange in the city, thus enabling those industrial firms to dial their numbers. The big concerns were thus put in a position which was far more advantageous than that of the people in a smaller way of business. That may seem unfair, but it must be pointed out that if those large industrial companies had had to use the manual exchange, the position would have been absolutely impossible for everybody. That was a step for which the Postmaster-General's Department ought to be commended.

In the Dandenong area, at least 90 per cent, of telephone subscribers are served by a manual exchange. Although the girls who operate the exchange do a truly great job, the task is just beyond the ability of the manual exchange to cope. The department is in the course of constructing a new automatic exchange, and I am hopeful that that will be completed in the very near future. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) has assured me that that will be so, and I am most thankful. I take this opportunity - the first I have had in the Parliament - publicly to express my appreciation, and that of a large number of people in Dandenong, for the interest shown by the Postmaster-General in going to Dandenong in May last year, at a time when he was extremely busy, there to meet a deputation comprising councillors of the shire and many other interested people. Indeed, the whole population of Dandenong is interested in this matter.

While there is an urgent need in Dandenong to change over to an automatic exchange, there is also an urgent need for a new post office. I may say that the present post office was built in 1870. But a new post office cannot be built until a lot of equipment is taken out and removed to the automatic exchange building. The population of Dandenong has grown from 7,000 to 20,000 in ten years. It is expected by the town planning branch of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works that the population will be 60,000 in less than twenty years' time. It is therefore necessary to take steps, as the Postmaster-General has done already, for the proper planning of the necessary work. Of course, Dandenong is not the only place which has telephone problems. In the near vicinity there is the shire of Springvale and Noble Park, a shire that recently was separated from Dandenong and which now has a population of 25,000. The value of building permits issued for the area during the year ended September, 1957, was £1,873,000. The value of permits issued to August of the current year was £2,518,000. Only recently, there was a land deal involving the subdivision of 155 acres of grazing land.

The population in 1945 was a mere fraction of the 25,000 that it is to-day. The shire, of course, has its problems in connexion with telephone services. It has almost completed new shire office buildings and expects to move into them next month. When it does so, because of lack of telephone services, it will be forced to use only three lines - in an area where 115 building permits for dwellings were issued in the month of July last alone. The shire is to be restricted to the use of three lines until major projects can be undertaken by the Postmaster-General's Department to relieve the position.

Mr Timson - The building of the new post office at Dandenong will enable that difficulty to be overcome.

Mr SNEDDEN - Yes. Mulgrave now has a population of 42,000. In 1945, the population was 4,000._ The growth in the area is simply fantastic. For the year ended 30th September, 1957, there were 2,294 building permits issued in the Mulgrave area. The instances that I have cited give the lie to the claim of the Opposition that building in Australia is in a slump. If honorable members opposite go to the area that I represent they will find that such allegations are far from true.

The area which may be generally characterized as the Mulgrave area includes Syndal, Glen Waverley, Tallyho, Mount Waverley, and a great number of other suburbs. On occasion, T have written to the Postmaster-General about this matter, and on 12th December, 1957, in the course of a reply to me, the Minister stated -

There are at present some 1,034 applications outstanding due to plant shortage in your electorate, the figures for each exchange area being as follows: Jordanville- 338, Tally-Ho- 384, Clayton - 83, and in the area which will be served by the new exchange to be established at Wheelers Hill - 229. Major engineering projects involving for the most part the laying of 200 pair cables are in hand . . .

While the efforts of the Postmaster-General and his department are greatly appreciated, I suggest that 200 pair cables in an area with such a large population are totally insufficient. The Postmaster-General's letter went on to say that -

.   . line plant will be made available to cater for 271 waiting applicants at Jordanville, 100 at Tally-Ho and all of the 229 requests outstanding in the Wheelers Hill exchange area by June, 1958.

But unfortunately, it has not been possible to achieve that objective. In a more recent letter to me, the Postmaster-General stated -

However, as mentioned in your letter, development in your electorate is mainly of a residential nature and, although due regard is given to the need for telephone services in private dwellings, you will appreciate that it would be difficult to give a higher priority to relief works to cater for fairly recent requests for residence installations whilst in other localities many business and residence applications have been outstanding for long periods.

I recognize that there are these conflicting claims and priorities, but I suggest to the department that the claims of the people in that area, which is growing so rapidly and which needs rapid provision of these services, are probably the most pressing in Australia to-day, notwithstanding what has been said by other honorable members. This is the area in which the greatest residential development is taking place.


Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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