House debates

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Statements by Members

Eden-Monaro Electorate: Television Broadcasts

1:47 pm

Photo of Kristy McBainKristy McBain (Eden-Monaro, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

More than a month ago the SBS signal in the town of Bermagui on the far South Coast of New South Wales dropped out. Overnight more than 1,500 people lost access to SBS and NITV without any warning and not much explanation as to why. My office was inundated by residents who were extremely concerned and frustrated by this development. The decision was made by the company maintaining the transmitter that it simply could not afford to keep up with the cost of repairs. The maintenance of these sites had been provided by commercial providers at their own cost, free of charge to SBS and ABC, since the transition to digital broadcasting over the last 10 years.

The Bermagui site is just the beginning. There are five other sites that could soon lose their ABC and SBS broadcast services, including Batlow, Bungendore, Dalmeny, Merimbula and Tumbarumba. Regional communities rely heavily on the ABC and SBS, including for emergency broadcasting. This is a matter of safety. What did the government say? Nothing. I wrote to the communications minister a month ago and haven't heard a single word back. Rather than act to avoid this sort of mess we've heard nothing. These are same public broadcasters that had their funding savagely slashed. This is simply not good enough and regional Australians deserve better from this government.