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Wednesday, 19 September 1973
Page: 1255

Mr NIXON (Gippsland) - We have had quite a lengthy cognate debate on this Bill, the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill and the Post and Telegraph Bill 1973 and the Opposition has expressed its concern about them. The Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony), who led in the debate, expressed deep concern at the extremely big increases proposed in the bulk postage rates for newspapers and periodicals. We made the point that there was a commission of inquiry investigating postal matters and that it should finish its hearings before the Government makes any changes of this nature. We accept the fact that there have to be increases from time to time and we made the point strongly that we thought the size of the proposed increases was quite unreasonable and could not in any way be accepted as a normal or fair increase to match rising costs. The Leader of the Country Party when leading in the debate said that he thought the Government should be more reasonable in its approach. I set out now some proposals that we believe are reasonable. In the first place we believe that the Government should withdraw its stated intention to eliminate concessional categories A and B on 1 October 1976 and that the new rates to apply should be made more reasonable. As the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) is aware, I have been able to hold discussions with officers of the Department about this matter. The rates that we consider should apply are set out in a document and I seekleave of the House to have that document incorporated in Hansard.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins (SCULLIN, VICTORIA) - Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -


1.   The Government withdraws its proposal to abolish Categories A and B on 1 October 1976.

2.   The following proposed rates for registered newspapers and periodicals, set out in item 2 of Part 1 of the First Schedule contained in Clause 5 of the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill, would be revised as follows:


3.   Clause 9 of the Post and Telegraph Bill and item 8 of the First Schedule of the Post and Telegraph Regulations Bill would be amended to provide that country newspapers and periodicals which are (a) printed and published in country areas or (b) which have a substantial proportion of the printed copies posted by the proprietors, printers or publishers to subscribers in country areas would remain in Category A.

Mr NIXON - I ask the Postmaster-General to give serious consideration to amending the legislation to bring into effect these rates rather than the ones that the Government proposed. We do not agree that country publications should be further disadvantaged to the degree proposed by the transfer of a number of them from category A to category B. We Believe it would be in the best interests of decentralisation if all country newspapers and periodicals which are printed in country areas were to remain in category A irrespective of the frequency of publication. We also consider that special consideration should be given to those country publications which are highly dependent on the mail for their distribution to subscribers. I therefore intend to move amendments to the Post and Telegraph Regulations Bill and the next Bill, the Post and Telegraphs Bill, to vary the conditions of catgory A.

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