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Wednesday, 16 March 1977
Page: 246


Mr HASLEM - I address my question to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. Is he aware that petitions signed by over 20 000 people have been presented to this Parliament this week on the subject of citizen radio services? Is he aware of Press reports that over the last week radio inspectors have been active in seizing radio equipment being used by those interested in citizen radio services? Is it the Government's intention to introduce legislation on this matter and to instruct radio inspectors to avoid action which in the circumstances may be interpreted as being extremely provocative?


Mr Eric Robinson (MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND) -I am aware of the substantial number of petitions that have come to the Parliament from people who are interested in citizen band radio. I thank the honourable member for Canberra for accepting some on my behalf last weekend. I have not directed in any way, nor has the head of my Department directed in any way, that there should be a step-up of so-called raids against people using this equipment; but those people who break the law have to realise that when they do so the processes of the law must take place. I take the opportunity to make a few comments on this general matter, because it is now of growing interest to honourable members on both sides of the Parliament. I hope that honourable members accept that it is a very complex matter. Anybody who has taken a few moments to look at it will understand that. The Secretary of the Department has been overseas and has studied the matter, particularly in the United States of America. I have had an officer of the Department especially looking at this matter for four or five months now. Almost 2 months ago I released a paper setting out the problems and possible options and asking members of the Australian community to let me have their views in order that I could proceed to make a submission to the Government. The interesting point is that the response to that request has been very poor. There have been a lot of noise and a lot of protests, but even the National Citizens Radio Association- the body which presumably speaks for operators of this equipment in Australia- has not yet made a submission to me. Its representatives are to see me tonight. I hope that I will have their views in order that I can make up my mind quickly, make a submission to the Cabinet within the next few weeks and have the decision announced to the Parliament not long after that.







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