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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 164

Mr MILTON —Is the Minister for Communications aware of the profound unrest amongst the people of the Dandenong Ranges as a result of years of poor television reception? Is he further aware that the electorate office of the Federal member for La Trobe is being constantly beseiged by telephone calls and letters from constituents drawing attention to years of unfulfilled promises to improve television reception made by the previous Government and the apparent lack of action by the Federal Labor Government in the matter? Will he confirm that construction of the translators necessary to improve television reception will commence not later than July 1984?

Mr DUFFY —The first point I would like to make is that the honourable member indicated that the problems have existed for many years. I remind him that this Government has been in office for less than six months. I am aware of the complaints that have been made to the electorate office of the honourable member for La Trobe, because he has passed those complaints on to me consistently and kept me informed on the matter.

The present position is that the Department of Communications has recently conducted field surveys in the area to determine technical operating conditions for both commercial and Australian Broadcasting Corporation television. The Department is currently working with commercial licensees and the industry body- the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations-to reach agreement on outstanding details. The outstanding problem at the moment is that a major planning decision will have to be made regarding the spacing between television stations in the ultra high frequency or UHF band. It will have to be determined whether that spacing will be seven or eight megahertz.

I expect that a decision on this matter will be made at about the same time as the negotiations with the licensees referred to earlier are completed. I expect that a statement on the technical difficulty will be made at the same time. I am , therefore, not in a position to give the honourable member a specific date for the commencement of construction. I assure the honourable member that the Department is proceeding with the utmost speed. I expect to be able to provide more definite information soon.