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Monday, 17 September 1973
Page: 1099


Mr DRUMMOND (Forrest) - The ruthless manner by which this Government is determined to reduce the rural community of Australia to second class citizenship is demonstrated by the measures taken under these 3 Bills dealing with post and telegraph charges. It has been eloquently pointed out by previous speakers from this side of the House the practical reasons why this will be a great disservice to the rural people and should be opposed with all the vigour that we can muster. The Government's vindictive treatment of the rural people knows no bounds and in an endeavour to reduce the rural people to second class citizenship it is quite prepared to damage people who are politically close to it. We are concerned about not only country newspapers but also a host of other publications that had, quite rightly because of distances and place of publication, received postal concessions. These publications contribute to a valuable public service in the disseminating of news, opinion and information of a technical, scientific, educational, religious or other equally worthwhile purpose in a way that cannot be matched by any other means. The practice in most Western countries is for mail of this type to be distributed cheaply in the public interest.

It is well known throughout the length and breadth of the land that the Liberal Party is interested in and represents all sections of the community. I believe that the position of the rural community has been well canvassed and explained by the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony), the Liberal members for Moreton (Mr Killen), Angas (Mr Giles) and Herbert (Mr Bonnett) and the Country Party member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson). Being interested, as I have said, in all sections of the community, I would like to speak for and on behalf of the unions of Australia. In particular, I would like to speak on behalf of the Australian Workers Union since no one from the other side of the House has risen to defend its position; and speaking on its behalf, I speak also on behalf of all organisations like it I would like to quote extensively from the editorial published in the 'Australian Worker' of Wednesday, 29 August, because of the deep concern which this union has shown over these measures. The editorial is headed 'We Believe' and states:

In one fell swoop the Federal Treasurer cleared the decks, as he put it, to initiate Labor's great welfare program and at the same time he put the kiss of death on every Union journal in Australia.

There is no Union in this country which can afford the absolutely intolerable postal charges amounting to at least a SOO per cent increase over the next three years that were announced in the Federal Budget.

The Treasurer, and the Cabinet, made a mockery of the ongoing Post Office Inquiry. The Inquiry was begun by Labor to find ways to improve the postal service. But did Cabinet, which is said to frame the Budget collectively, wait to hear the results of ils own Inquiry? It did not

Instead, the Treasurer waded-in and slapped down the users of the 'B' category postal service by announcing the phasing out of the concession rates. That means that within the next three years this newspaper, for instance, must pay the full going postal rate, and on present size it would cost around IS cents a copy to post- about $234,000 a year, for postage alone.

The Government's decision is nothing less than a stab in the back to the Trade Union Movement which spawned at least some of those in Canberra who helped to make this decision. By destroying the Trade Union Press - and that is what the removal of this postal concession means - the Labor Party has lost one of its most loyal partners and the only real avenue the Party had to get unslanted political news to its supporters.

If those who have set out to destroy the Trade Union Press think for one minute that the general media will tell the story as it truly is, simply because Labor is presently the Government, then they ate stupidly naive.


Mr Mathews - Do you share that view?


Mr DRUMMOND - I am giving the Australian workers the opportunity to be heard in this debate in this Parliament This report continues:

As important as that aspect of this monumental blunder is, the real damage will be to the ordinary worker. He, or she, must depend upon their Union publications to be informed on their Award conditions and proper rates of pay, as well as myriad of other industrial matters.

This Union has contended at the Post Office Inquiry that there should be no feelings of alarm over the postal service suffering a financial loss as shown in the balance sheet The fact is that most of the losses shown by the postal service are directly attributable to paper debts and interest payments to the Treasury. In other words interest paid by one Government facility to another on major capital works done for Big Business.

The article went on to state:

We warned at the Post Office Inquiry that if any further postal charge imposts were visited upon the Trade Union Press it would finish off those that have not already ceased publication as a result of the 125 per cent increases already loaded onto us by the Coalition Governments. Labor should think twice before putting this measure into effect.

I bring this quite seriously to the notice of the House because of the effect that this decision is having on the union publications and on all the other publications that I mentioned earlier. I hope that the Government will take notice of this powerful union and the last sentence in that article:

Labor should think twice before putting this measure into effect.

There may be a threat in that sentence for the Government and it might soon be realised if this legislation is put into operation.







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