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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1695

Senator DEVITT (TASMANIA) - My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. In view of the fact that the present rate of postage at 10c for letters has had the effect of dissuading people in increasing numbers from exchanging greetings at Christmas time, and because in many instances this is the only occasion in the year when contact is made between relatives, friends and former acquaintances, would the Minister consider providing a 5c postage rate for Christmas cards which could be identified by the use of an unsealed envelope and, if necessary, some other readily identifiable distinguishing mark? Would this not substantially increase the mail flow and restore the revenue situation which must be diminishing because of the disinclination of people, including a great many pensioners and other people on the lower income level, to meet the increasing costs from year to year of this ageold and time honoured custom?

Senator BISHOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) - I can only undertake to have the matter examined. It is a very involved question and may require an assessment by Treasury and the Australian Post Office. Although the rate has increased from 7c to 10c, because of the lifting of the weight restriction that was formerly applied there is an improvement in the present rate for the most commonly used letters. Previously many Christmas cards attracted a higher rate and would have cost 1 5c to post. They will now cost 10c. The provision of a special rate over Christmas would need legislation and would need to be considered first by Cabinet. I will have the matter examined by the Post Office. As to whether or not people use the service, the fact is that since the new rate was applied there has been a slight increase in the amount of mail posted when compared with the same period last year. I will let the honourable senator know the result of my inquiries.

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