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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 3368

Mr Charles Jones asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

What was the annual cost of advertising airline operations by -

(a)   Trans-Australia Airlines;

(b)   Ansett Airlines of Australia and each of its airline subsidiaries;

(c)   East-West Airlines; and

(d)   Qantas during the last live years.

Mr Swartz - The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

The funds allocated to advertising by the airlines are regarded by them as confidential and it would place them at a competitive disadvantage if these details were divulged. It is regretted therefore 'that' the information sought cannot be provided.

Telephone Service at Toprain (Question No. 5828)

Dr Everingham asked the Postmaster-

General, upon notice:

(1)   Was telephone service promised to Brigalow developers between Comet and Rolleston for not later than March 1971 at a meeting at Memooloo in April 1970.

(2)   If so, was the promise withdrawn in 1971 due to lack of finance.

(3)   Is lack of finance the true reason for delays so often attributed to lack of various essential supplies which take many months to obtain.

(4)   Is lack of finance justifiable for lucrative development works when the telephone service is working at a profit.

(5)   Would this position be improved by conducting most of the Department's undertakings as a normal business enterprise; if not, why not.

Sir Alan Hulme (PETRIE, QUEENSLAND) (Postmaster-General) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) At the meeting at Memooloo it was indicated that the Post Office could provide exchange facilities at Toprain within twelve months if the applicants reached agreement on the construction of lines to the exchange point at their expense. However, they were unable to agree between themselves on this aspect. At a later meeting in Brisbane in August 1971 between the Director, Posts and Telegraphs, Queensland, and Members of Parliament who were pursuing the matter on behalf of the applicants, the offer was repeated as a temporary measure pending the provision by the Post Office of standard Departmental lines which could not be programmed for some years.

The position now is that, in the current 3-year works programme, an amount of $20,000 has been allocated for the construction of a trunk line from Blackwater to Toprain for the establishment of exchange facilities at the latter centre. It is expected that the trunk line will be constructed by the end of the 1972-73 financial year and the work on subscribers' line reticulation and supporting trunk line provision on main routes will then be undertaken, with completion of the project in its entirety being scheduled for 1975-76. However, when the Toprain trunk line is constructed, it is proposed to utilise it for the establishment of a public telephone in) the area so that a measure of service will be available to the residents pending connection of their services.

(3)   Funds for the Post Office capital works are allocated to the various States as far as practicable in proportion to the demand for services and the physical capacity to meet the demand. However, it is not just a question of finance. The telephone system is complex and the provision of new services often involves the establishment of new exchanges and trunk line facilities, as in the case of Toprain. Projects of this nature, requiring as they do highly trained staffengineers, technicians and the like - must be preceded by detailed surveys and exchange area planning to ensure that available resources are utilised in the most effective manner. Even if unlimited funds were available, this would not in itself mean that telephone services could be installed in all instances without delay, since the ability to expand capital within a given period is dependent on the extent to which resources of skilled manpower and materials can be devoted to the task.

(4)   and (5) The Government looks to the Post

Office to conduct its activities on sound commercial lines as far as practicable. However, it seems clear that, if an organisation were operating purely and simply as a business undertaking, it would not be prepared to provide telephone services in many of our rural areas. Rural telephone services are generally not an attractive financial proposition because of the heavy costs involved in their provision and maintenance for a relatively low revenue return. For example, in the Toprain case, total revenue was estimated in 1970 at $4,500 per annum for a capital investment of some $100,000. Such uneconomic projects can only be undertaken by the Post Office in its role as a public utility with the responsibility for providing telephone services in unprofitable as well as profitable areas.

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