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Thursday, 7 October 1971
Page: 2120

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I think the honourable member should address the Chair and not the Australian Country Party.

Mr ARMITAGE - I am very sorry, Mr Speaker. I will do so.

Mr Cope - Do not talk to them in future.

Mr ARMITAGE - No, I will not talk to them in future. I suggest that members of the Country Party who I understood were prophets of decentralisation should be interested in this issue especially when we consider that, arising from the reorganisation ordered by the Government and announced by the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) 3 weeks ago, the divisional engineer's staff of 29 and the district telephone manager's staff of 16 will be transferred from Goulburn to Canberra. The transfer will affect a total staff of 45 with an annual salary of $237,796.

I would now like to refer to the centre at Maitland, and I am sure that the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O'Keefe) will be interested in this. A total staff of 43 with an annual salary of $224,798 is to be transferred from Maitland to Newcastle. The Government is effecting a wonderful job of decentralisation at a time when there is more unemployment - in fact mass unemployment - in country areas than has been seen since the depression years. This is a ridiculous state of affairs. A staff of 32 with an annual salary of $173,948 is being transferred from Gosford to Parramatta. Staffs are also being transferred from Armidale to Tamworth, from Bathurst to Orange, from Dubbo to Orange, from Kempsey to Grafton, from Lismore to Grafton, from Narrandera to Wagga and from Parkes to Orange. These shifts will cause extraordinary chaos right throughout country areas. I think it is time that Country Party members joined with members on this side of the House to force the PostmasterGeneral to reappraise his policy on the issue about which I have just spoken and also on the issue of providing a service to the public by deciding not to reduce official offices to non-official status. I hope that the Postmaster-General will decide not to close non-official offices along the Putty road from Windsor going towards Singleton, for if he does he will leave 80 miles of road without one post office to serve the public.

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