House debates

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Constituency Statements

Gilmore Electorate: Digital Black Spots

9:42 am

Photo of Joanna GashJoanna Gash (Gilmore, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to bring to the attention of the House a matter that is of interest and concern to all Australians: television. According to Roy Morgan research, in a typical week during 2007, the average Australian adult spends 21 hours and 46 minutes watching television. That was 27 per cent more than time spent listening to the radio, 146 per cent more than time on the internet, 545 per cent more than time spent reading newspapers and 1,068 per cent more than time spent reading magazines. You can imagine how upset these people would be if they were not able to access TV reception, which is why I am very concerned about my constituents in Gilmore, who are living in some of the digital black spot areas. I am particularly concerned about those who are not recognised by this government as being in a black spot. I put out a press release early in January this year informing people about the official time the switchover will occur on the South Coast from analog to digital TV. I mentioned a report by the digital ready task force, which published the government’s digital black spot list featuring two subgroups from the Gilmore electorate—Kangaroo Valley and Berry. People from the community were then invited to let me know if they feel that they are in a black spot area that was not mentioned.

My office was inundated with calls from people up and down the South Coast. We began compiling our own black spot list to give to the government as a way of appealing for both recognition and assistance. The list was as follows: Jaspers Brush—Cedar Vale Lane and Croziers Road; Bellawongarah—Kangaroo Valley Road; Sussex InletRiver Road; Government Road and Springs Road, Bundewallah; Coolangatta—Bolong Road and Northview Close; Gerringong; Rose Valley; Kiama; Basin View; Beaumont; Berry—Borrowdale Close; Jamberoo; Sanctuary Point; and, of course, Kangaroo Valley. That is a total of 14 suburbs all up so far. The government now has that list.

When my office asked the digital task force what sort of assistance would be provided to these people and when the digital task force would act, they did not know. When we asked whether it would happen before the switchover and whether they could guarantee that no-one would miss out, they could not say. When we asked whether residents in these areas would have to pay for satellites on their roofs, they could not tell us the details—not even how much it would cost or even when we would all be enlightened. For those who already have satellites we cannot even find out what the transition will look like for them. I have to tell you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I tried to watch my digital TV last weekend and, because of the rain, I could not even get a signal. It was extremely frustrating. Is this going to be another bungled proposal by this government?