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Wednesday, 28 October 1964

Senator O'BYRNE (Tasmania) .- Mr. Chairman,I refer to Broadcasting and Television Services, Division No. 843 - Technical and Other Services, Television. Under sub-division 2, an amount of £2,004,000 is provided for expenditure on transmitting equipment. The matter I want particularly to refer to is the establishment of a television boosting station to serve the residents of the west coast of Tasmania. It is rather unfortunate that this particular area of Tasmania is the only one in which television reception is unavailable, it is particularly desirable that the people do have television reception in that area because of its isolation. The people there receive the special taxation concessions that are granted to people who are at a disadvantage geographically. During the weekend when I was in Queenstown and Zeehan, and the other west coast areas to which I refer, the people told me that in the whole of the last year they had only had 34 fine days. That gives an indication of the type of weather experienced there. The rainfall is over 100 ins. per year and, in parts of the area, such as Lake Margaret, it is up to 125 or 130 ins. So these people do warrant special consideration.

I would like to ask the Minister for Custons and Excise (Senator Anderson) how far the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has gone with the investigation into this problem. A request has been made to me by Mr. John McCrostie, a very public spirited citizen of Queenstown, to have this matter brought before Parliament to see whether a booster station or a translator service would provide a practical and economic means of satisfying the needs of the west coast area. I understand that commercial television stations have exhibited some interest in providing a service there but it is not known whether they have gone ahead with their investigation or whether they have made any decision about providing a service. But there has been an indication that the Postmaster-General's Department would have an investigation made. I ask the Minister whether a report has been made by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and whether he has yet received it. In view of the special circumstances existing on the west coast I would ask the Minister to do all he can to expedite the establishment either of a booster station or translators in that area.

One matter that should be stressed is that this area of the west coast of Tasmania is predominantly a mining area. There are scattered populations and it is isolated in as much as it is 160 miles from Hobart and about the same distance from Launceston. The roadways are in the process of being sealed but have not yet been sealed. There is no railway connection with Queenstown. Together with the other factors of climate and geography, this shows that the people in this area do merit special consideration. Another reason for providing a service in that area is based on educational grounds. Young people of the west coast, many of whose parents are employed in the mining industry, although attending schools, have a very limited ability to enjoy the usual cultural entertainments. As all honorable senators know, the media of television is creating a new horizon for people who enjoy excellent musical and cultural entertainment of an order that should be made available to all people who are able to get it.

I make that special appeal to the Minister even though he may have other commitments in other parts of Australia. All the factors seem to work against Queenstown. There is a very high mountain range separating it from centres where television stations are operating, both in the north and south of Tasmania. Altogether, there are four stations on the island and it seems rather unfortunate that even though Tasmanian people are so well served this mountain range shadows this particular area. The people in Tasmania are most worthy and would appreciate the services I have requested being made available to them. I hope that the Minister has some information on the subject and that he will make representations to the PostmasterGeneral with a view to expediting any proposed establishment of a booster station or translators on the west coast of Tasmania.

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