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Wednesday, 16 March 1977

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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