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Friday, 23 November 1979
Page: 2883

Senator CHANEY -Yesterday Senator Jessop raised with me the matter of television services on Eyre Peninsula. The Senate will be well aware of Senator Jessop 's untiring efforts to achieve for the residents of Eyre Peninsula a television service, which the great majority of Australians have now enjoyed for 20 years or so. Before providing Senator Jessop with further information which I have received from the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, I should make clear that Senator Jessop was mistaken in his question in one minor respect. These matters are not for the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, as suggested by the honourable senator, but for Mr Staley 's Department. Therefore, it would be unfair of us to accuse the Tribunal of procrastination in this area. The finger must be pointed at Mr Staley's Department alone.

The Minister has informed me of the sorry history of this matter. It appears, sad to say, that undertakings have been given in the past which have not been met. Mr Staley has indicated that for this reason, both in replies to Senator Jessop and others and during Mr Staley's trip to Eyre Peninsula early this year, he has been most reluctant to give firm undertakings unless he is absolutely sure that they can be met. He has judged that a sureness about information given is better than speed. During the visit to Eyre Peninsula, however, the Minister indicated that he would, as quickly as possible, provide to Senator Jessop and residents of Eyre Peninsula an outline of the project to extend television services to the area. My memory is that this has been done.

Senator Jessopseeks an indication as to when this project will commence. The Minister's advice is that, whilst the plan in total has not been finalised or submitted for his final approval, as a general indication his officials expect to commence site acquisitions on Eyre Peninsula by the middle of next year and then progressively to construct the necessary facilities so that the project is finalised by the end of 1982. The honourable senator will understand that this is a project of some magnitude and cannot be completed any more quickly. It may be possible, however, to commence earlier so that the whole matter can be brought to a conclusion in a shorter time span. Mr Staley has indicated that he is aware of the great desire of residents of Eyre Peninsula to have what most other Australians have enjoyed for some time. He has instructed his officials to pursue the completion of this project and, if possible, to bring forward the date by which final decisions can be made.

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