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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 397

Mr Innes asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to recent statements that Australian telegrams are cheap in comparison with many comparable countries.

(2)   If so, is he able to say what was the cost (a) in Australian dollars, (b) as a percentage of the particular domestic average weekly wage and (c) as a percentage of the particular domestic poverty-level weekly income of a 1 2 word or comparable domestic telegram in each of the OECD countries as at 30 June in each of the last 10 years.

(3)   Is he able to say which OECD countries have (a) a national Postal and/or Telecommunications Service, and (b) a national telegram service that were profitable as at 30 June in each of the last 1 0 years.

Mr Staley -The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   Information is not available in the precise form of the question. Telecom has, however, provided the following information outlining: the cost expressed in Australian dollars of an average length domestic telegram (20 words) including messenger delivery fee for the United States and Canada, which are comparable with Australia in terms of size and general living standards; and the hours of work required to pay for such a telegram in each country - based on the hourly earnings in the manufacturing industry in 1977 for those countries:

Cost of Hours

Country telegram of work


Australia......... S.S0 1.15

Canada.......... 4.70 0.92

U.S.A........... 7.63 1.48

So far as European countries (members of the OECD) are concerned, it is understood that the tariff for telegrams covers all forms of delivery, i.e. regardless of whether the message is for delivery by messenger, to a telex or telephone number, code address, etc. In Australia, differing charges apply in such circumstances. Bearing in mind these differing rates, the following comparison is relevant:

Cost of Hours

Country telegram of work


Australia......... 4.90 1.03

Sweden.......... 8.14 1.24

Cost of Hours

Country telegram of work


Federal Republic of Germany . . 6.19 1.01

United Kingdom....... 4.95 1.43

Denmark......... 4.80 0.67

Norway.......... 4.67 0.74

France.......... 3.74 1.34

It is, of course , extremely difficult to draw meaningful comparisons between the cost of a partiuclar product or service in different countries. In looking at an individual telecommunications product, for instance, one must have regard to the population and area to be served, the need to achieve the financial objectives of the administration, the prevailing wage structure and the relative costs of like and competing services.

(3)   (a) In Europe and Japan telecommunications services are provided by Government Departments or authorities.

In the United States domestic and international telecommunications are provided by private operating agencies with an overlay of regulatory provisions through Government Commissions. In Canada the international service is the responsibility of a Government agency with the national communications being handled by private operating agencies and also State Provincial Government authorities.

(b)   The information is not readily available.

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