Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Paterson Electorate: Digital Television
On 27 November 2012, 204 days ago, digital television switchover occurred in my electorate. I warned the government many, many months before the switch-over that there would be massive issues. In my electorate office I have received over 1,550 complaints from constituents. I have made in excess of 500 representations to the minister or the Digital Switchover Taskforce about digital television reception. The response from this government has been nothing short of appalling.
This is one of the major issues in my electorate. Prior to the switch-over I warned the government that areas of Anna Bay, areas where Elizabeth Beach is, where we had a self-help tower that was not going to be switched over to digital, needed to be done. I pointed out the economic case for the need to put a digital transmitter at Elizabeth Beach as against the cost of subsidised VAST services. Thankfully, the government installed transmitters at Elizabeth Beach and Anna Bay and helped some 5,738 residents who would have been excluded from having television reception.
But the issue I have now is that, according to the census figures and the areas that are affected now, some 27,427 constituents receive little or almost no television reception. Areas like Hawks Nest, Tea Gardens, Pindimar, Bundabah, North Arm Cove, Karuah, Lemon Tree Passage, Tanilba Bay, Mallabula, Medowie, Stroud, East Gresford, Gresford, Bulahdelah, Fingal Bay, Taylors Beach, Soldiers Point, Nerong either have very little to none or very poor service.
Last week, the day after the State of Origin, we were inundated with telephone calls—not to congratulate the Blues on winning the State of Origin but from people who were not able to watch the State of Origin because they had no television signal. I have brought just a handful of the many responses from the minister's office. I say the minister's office because not once in all the representations has the minister seen fit to respond personally. In fact, in requests for meetings with his office to sit down and talk about this massive issue personally, we are just fobbed off to the adviser. Advisers try as hard as they can, but I would have thought that on an issue that affects so many people in an electorate, to have had 1,548 complaints to my office, it would have warranted a personal meeting with the minister for communications.
These letters at best are diatribes, because in 204 days nothing has been done to adjust, fix or address a signal. What we receive from this government is rhetoric and more rhetoric—saying things like, 'Oh well, it's an issue of convergence of signal and atmospheric conditions.' Most of these people had reasonable television signal from analog prior to the digital switch-over, but today they have nothing.
On Tuesday morning again we suffered a massive number of phone calls. The weather conditions must have been poor, because it affected the reception of the TV show The Voice. What about all the summer sports that people on holidays want to sit back and watch—like the golf, the tennis, the cricket—at times when the atmospheric conditions are worse and the TV reception is poor?
After one of my representations the minister responded that ACMA would be putting a task force together in the Hunter in the week beginning 18 February 2013 to undertake signal measurements and a simple of viewers and report back to me. That was four months ago, and still we have had no resolution to the issue. It is an important issue. It is an issue that people in my electorate have been suffering now for some 204 days. Unfortunately, I think this government are waiting until they lose the election and hand over the problem to an incoming government—no action because they have no attitude to respond to constituents needs. (Time expired)