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Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Page: 2999


Mr TEHAN (6:49 PM) —In rising to speak on the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Dividend and Other Measures) Bill 2011, I raise serious concerns about the digital switch-over in south-west Victoria which is due to take place in early May. Like many other government programs that we are bearing witness to in south-west Victoria, this one looks as if it is going to be another rolled-gold disaster. It seems quite clear that the people are not ready and the groundwork has not been done. The shadow minister for communications has written to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy on this, and his reply makes no sense. So tonight I am calling for the digital switch-over in south-west Victoria to be postponed so more work can be done with local communities and residents to get them ready for the so-called digital switch-over, which—let us be honest and call a spade a spade—is the analog switch-off. That is what it is. It is people having their analog TVs turned off.

Those people need to be prepared so that they can move to digital—and they are not. Let me read an email that I have received:

Dear Mr Tehan,

I am writing to you for some assistance in the matter of such poor reception in the Cobden area. We feel disadvantaged in this, as most towns seem to have better reception than us. We are seeing texts to the editor in the local papers about problems with pixilation. Many TV viewers between Terang and the southern coast have been experiencing pixilation on TV signals. We also have issues regarding upgrading of antenna systems. It seems that when you switch to digital, if you need to upgrade your antenna system and you are a pensioner or a gold card holder, you will not get assistance.

These problems and many more need to be addressed before the so-called digital switch-over or—let us call a spade a spade—the analog switch-off takes place. This is going to impact people in my electorate. They already have poor mobile telecommunications reception and now they are going to have poor TV reception. They are going to be left with a double-whammy. This government is failing to listen and is failing to take account of this extremely serious problem. The digital switch-over in south-west Victoria needs to be postponed. More effort needs to be made to make sure that people, especially those who are less well off, are in a position to be able to deal with the digital transfer, with the analog TV being turned off.