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Monday, 17 September 1973
Page: 1102

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The House will come to order. There is constant interjection and barrage across the table. I invite the honourable member for Gippsland to address the Chair and I ask the PostmasterGeneral to make his reply at a later stage of the debate.

Mr NIXON - I agree entirely with your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker. The point I am making is that a decision may well have been made by the Postmaster-General - and this was pointed out by the honourable member for Cowper - that metrication would be introduced and an agreement reached on the weights. But the point in debate here is the rates. The point I am making is indisputable. From now on one will pay 15c for a 28 gram letter. There was never any Cabinet decision approving this as far as I am aware. This again is supported by the honourable member for Cowper. It is of no good making up fairy stories, which is exactly what the Minister is doing.

It is quite objectionable that the Post Office should make a profit out of metrication. Such a proposal was never before the previous Government and therefore had never been discussed or agreed to. But what is worse is that the Government has instituted an inquiry into the Post Office. This commission of inquiry has been taking evidence from all sorts of interested people throughout the county but the findings have been aborted by the predilection of the Coombs committee, and the extravaganzas of the Labor Government are an insult to the work of the commission. I join with the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) in this. I hope that Sir James Vernon and his commission will ignore the impertinence and rudeness of the Government in acting in this way before the hearing has been completed. Suffice it to say that evidence given, I think, by Post Office officials to the commission of inquiry pointed out that subsidisation of some postal charges is necessary and that the removal of subsidisation will not answer the financial problems of the Post Office. The Post Office should provide a service to the people of Australia as a whole. It should be used as an instrument of national development and not as an economic instrument. I support the amendment that is to be moved by the Leader of the Country Party at the Committee stage.

Question put:

That the question be now put.

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