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Wednesday, 11 May 1960

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) . I should like to take this opportunity to read to the House a letter which I received to-day from the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). It is as follows: -

Dear Mr. Wentworth,

I refer to your personal representations, on behalf of the Brookvale Infants Mothers' Club (Mrs. J. S. Watson, Hon. Secretary), requesting that telephone services installed in schools should be charged for at residence rates.

In the first instance, I should like to explain that when the principle of charging lower rates for telephone services connected to residences was introduced originally, the question of including

State Schools, Public Schools and other educational institutions in the scheme was considered fully. However, owing to the large number and various types of schools concerned, the adoption of such a course was found to be impracticable.

The basic principle of the residence telephone tariff is that the service must be used substantially for social and domestic purposes. As schools do not comply with the essential requirements in this respect, the Post Office would be involved in serious difficulties if any attempt were made to introduce exceptions to the general rule.

Whilst I fully appreciate the nature of the work undertaken by the Mothers' Club, I am afraid that, for the reasons outlined in the foregoing, the way is not clear to accede to the request.

I do not regard that as a reasonable letter, and I do not regard this as a reasonable principle. I do believe that the Government should take a more lenient view of this matter which is probably of small financial consequence but which seems to me to be a matter of some principle.

I have also received a letter from the Newport Health and Community Centre, again in my electorate, which contains a similar request to the Postmaster-General. The letter points out that the committee runs the baby health centre and children's library, both of which are non-profit making, and although neither is a residence in the actual sense of any one residing there, each is certainly not in business. The committee has asked for concessional rates also, but the Postmaster-General, in his reply, refuses to grant the residence rate.

I believe that the Government should, if necessary, amend the act. I do not know whether it is necessary to do so, but at any rate the Government should take steps to rectify what is an obvious absurdity in administration.

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