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Wednesday, 18 May 1960

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will resume his seat.

Mr WHEELER - I thank the honorable member for East Sydney, who has had his usual afternoon nap. I point out that my colleagues have not been so fortunate. He must excuse them. As I was remarking before the honorable member's intervention, the speech of the Postmaster-General was a rather disturbing one. On several occasions he referred to certain matters, but contented himself by saying that he would leave the actual details of them for discussion at the committee stage. If the committee stage is as jet propelled as the discussion that has taken place during the second-reading stage, it is obvious that adequate consideration will be impossible. From time to time in this place I have said that the functions of the PostmasterGeneral's Department are too diversified and are beyond the capacity of one Minister to administer. Obviously the time has come to separate the functions of the PostmasterGeneral's Department. Certainly there is a need to separate telecommunications from the ordinary run of postal business.

Mr Bryant - Why?

Mr WHEELER - I will explain if the honorable member will listen. I am glad that he is awake. Telecommunications is unquestionably a technical department and requires the full-time attention of somebody having legal and technical experience.

I conclude by saying that the bill seems to drag the board out of a mire that it has created by jumping up and down in the one place for far too long. I hope that the board will be able to function more successfully, but little imagination is required to predict that before long the Government life-savers will again be required to extricate the board from its next set of difficulties.

I will support the second reading of the bill because 1 believe it has some very good features which should be retained. However, I reserve my right to further thought on certain clauses of the bill.

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