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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 29

(Question No. 1522)

Senator Archer asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, upon notice, on 13 November 1986:

(1) What was the annual cost of the provision of the VNG Standard Frequency and Time Signal Service.

(2) Who are the principal users of the service, and does it provide important information, either directly or indirectly, to the professional astronomical community.

(3) Is the service to be curtailed.

(4) Are there any viable alternative sources of this information.

Senator Walsh —The Minister for Communications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question based on advice from the Australian Telecommunications Commission:

(1) Recurrent operating costs of the VNG service are of the order of $100,000 per annum. However the existing transmitters are obsolete and need replacement. The order of costs for modern transmitters with aerials would be in the vicinity of $1.5m.

(2) The principal users of the service have been Government Departments and Authorities as well as other organisations such as Universities and Astronomical Societies. The service has provided useful information in the radio astronomy, surveying, calibration and navigation fields.

(3) and (4) As Telecom makes no use of time and frequency signals from VNG and could no longer justify the expense of maintaining the service, it was decided to write to the seven major Government organisations known to use VNG inviting them to consider alternative methods of gaining the required information or to consider taking over the operation of the service. Telecom offered to make the existing equipment available without charge to any organisation wishing to assume responsibility for the service. Responses were received from only two Departments still using the service (Defence and Resources and Energy) and pending further consultation with them, Telecom has agreed to continue to maintain the service for the time being.