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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3292

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr CORBETT - Yes. Last night in the course of debate, the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) said, referring to me:

I will give him full credit for the country lines policy introduced in 1970. As a matter of fact the honourable gentleman with Senator Lawrie I think, issued a remarkable Press statement on 11 June 1970. Honourable members should bear in mind that the Budget for 1970 was not introduced until August. But in June the 2 gentlemen issued a Press statement. It happened to be after the Cabinet meeting which would have dealt with this matter. The statement said what a great thing it would be if there were a IS mile radius for country lines. They had a remarkable insight into what was to happen. The incredible thing is that the Press statement was made 9 days after the Cabinet meeting and 3 months before the Parliament was informed about Cabinet's decision. But they knew what was on and had a major win in their own interest.

I am sure that the Postmaster-General would not deny having strongly inferred that I was in possession of a Cabinet decision to increase the distance for free telephone line installations to 15 miles and used this information publicly for my own advantage. The inference that I was in possession of a secret Cabinet decision is completely untrue. I did not know when that Cabinet decision was made until the Postmaster-General announced it last night. This is a completely untrue and unjustified insinuation. It is also an unjustified attack on the integrity of the Cabinet of 'that time. The policy on country telephone lines, which was-

Mr SPEAKER -Order'. The honourable gentleman is now making a personal explanation as to how he was misrepresented, not in regard to the policy of the Country Party.

Mr CORBETT - No, but the PostmasterGeneral referred to the Press release that I made, and I believe it is only fair that I should give the reasons why I made that Press release and make it clear that the release was not the result of a Cabinet decision, which the Minister infers I knew about. In fairness, I should like to give the reasons why we made the Press release.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member is not in order if he refers to Country Party policy on telephones. He is now making a personal explanation and explaining how he was misrepresented.

Mr CORBETT - I was a member of the committee which made that recommendation to the Country Party. It was made long before the Cabinet decision, and therefore the Press release was based on something that happened long before the Cabinet decision was made. Obviously the Postmaster-General's inference is completely untrue. I believe that this type of innuendo and insinuation is the lowest form of attack on a member, and the Postmaster-General should be ashamed of himself.

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