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Wednesday, 9 March 1977
Page: 67

Mr WALLIS (Grey) -During the course of the debate on the Budget Estimates last year, I took the opportunity during the estimates for the Department of Postal and Telecommunications to raise a matter that concerns a large section of my electorate, a matter I have raised before on a number of occasions by way of questions and in debate. I refer to the lack of television services in a large portion of Eyre Peninsula within my electorate. At the conclusion of the estimates debate the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) stated that he would reply to the points raised by the various members. To date, apart from a short answer to a question on notice, no word has been received from the Minister on this matter. I have forwarded a further letter to him on this question in which I have made suggestions that may be feasible. The people of these areas are very concerned at the lack of action in providing such a service. Surely these areas should be able at least to look forward to a service in the foreseeable future. After all, provision of television services is accepted as the norm by most Australians and in our major cities the people have the choice of 4 channels. All these people are asking for is an Australian Broadcasting Commission service to give them at least a service.

Some time ago we saw the completion of phase 7, a program to provide television services to many of the non-metropolitan areas and more remote areas throughout Australia. Since the completion of phase 7, there has been no ongoing program to extend the services to those areas still without this amenity. During the recent parliamentary recess, I was able to organise the distribution of petition forms throughout those areas of Eyre Peninsula without television. The petitions received very strong support throughout and had the support of the local government authorities, the newspapers and the community in general. During the last few weeks I have had the privilege of presenting 2 petitions containing over 2800 names of residents in the area. I trust that the petitions are not allowed to gather dust in the basement without the plea of the petitioners being given due consideration.

I am aware that certain investigations have been carried out by the responsible authorities in the Streaky Bay area to assess the feasibility of establishing a service in that locality. I am also aware of suggestions of using the microwave link that goes through Eyre Peninsula as a means of transmitting programs. There have been suggestions that a more powerful transmitter can be established on a high point within the area, at a place called Mount Cooper. Whilst I certainly do not claim to have the technical expertise to speak with any authority on these suggestions, I do feel that a reasonably powered transmitter having an effective range of 45 to 50 miles would give coverage to a large number of the towns and rural communities in that locality. This would be in an area bounded by a triangle of Streaky Bay, Minnipa and Elliston. Such a service would cover not only the towns mentioned but also other towns such as Poochera, Wudinna, Kyancutta and all the rural communities that these towns service.

I made a suggestion to the Minister in my last correspondence to him that if the existing transmitter at Ceduna were strengthened to improve its coverage, coupled with the suggested transmitter in the vicinity of Mount Cooper, many of the areas now without service would be covered. Recently the Premier of South Australia made an announcement to provide Electricity Trust of South Australia power to this part of South Australia, and I understand that an 1 1 000 KVA powerline is likely to be laid in the vicinity, so the necessary power should be available to establish such a facility.

I am fully aware of the strength of feeling within my electorate at the delays and frustration at the complete lack of information as to when they can expect that the television service is to be established. From my contact with the Eyre Peninsula, the question of when the powers that be make a decision is, by far, the most pressing political matter raised with me as their Federal member. The particular section of South Australia has, for the last few years, been found very attractive as a tourist area for families on caravan tours. With its first class fishing areas available, a beautiful coastline and its natural attractions, there is a great potential. It cannot reach its full potential until such time as tourists, who are accustomed to a television service, know that it is available. Its provision will assist in allowing Eyre Peninsula and the west coast of South Australia to reach its full potential as a tourist attraction. I therefore hope that the Minister takes note of the contents of the petition in an effort to provide this service to the hinterland of Eyre Peninsula and that he accepts the fact that, despite the problems involved, everybody in the area feels a sense of deprivation of a service that is available to 95 per cent of their fellow Australians. I trust that the Minister will give the plea of the petitioners his sympathetic consideration.

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