House debates

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Television Switch-over) Bill 2008

Consideration in Detail

10:45 pm

Photo of John ForrestJohn Forrest (Mallee, National Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development) Share this | Hansard source

The member for Braddon was boasting lyrically about all the hard work he has done on television broadcasting down there in Braddon. Let me tell you the story of Mallee. Let me tell you of the indignation the constituents of mine feel at being the guinea pigs of this so-called transition. We have had 15 years of the fight to get decent television across the north-west of Victoria. In 1993, when I was first elected, they had one commercial channel and one ABC channel and nothing else. Most of the rest of the nation had full aggregation, which came through in the mid-1980s. I finally got things settled down on television in Mallee and could get on with battling for veterans and all the other things we are confronted with as members of parliament.

I have been through two conversions from analog to digital. Despite what the member for Braddon asserts while wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, this is inferior technology in terms of its geographical coverage. We went through this with mobile phones and it was a nightmare. Where analog used to work because it is different technology—it could go through trees unaffected by the atmosphere and all the rest—digital cannot provide that quality in geographic coverage.

All that these amendments to the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Television Switch-over) Bill 2008 that the opposition have put will do is give some assurance that there will be proper process, that the ACMA will be out there making measurements to fill the holes—despite all the work I have done with two black spots programs—where digital will not deliver so that remote areas do not miss out and become black spots. All the good citizens of Mildura, Ouyen and Murrayville want to know in advance is what the process will be by which they can be assured that at the cutthroat stage, which is only 12 months away, they are not going to be disadvantaged in terms of their television reception. That is all our amendments are asking for—a description of process.

I wrote to the ACMA last week and invited them to come down and calm down the good constituents I have in Ouyen and Murrayville who know they are going to miss out because, like me, they know that digital is not the same quality. So I will make one more plea. I note that the government has made some response with its amendments, but they are extremely—


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