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Territory Government call to reopen Cox Peninsula welcomed - but why did it take a crisis to respond?

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9/14/99 15:49 FAXSERVER3 -> 02 6273 5959 Page 1 of 1 14.SEP.1999 15=40 HON KIM BEAZLEY MEDIA

Media Release

Hon. Warren S n ow d on M.P.


Member for the Northern Territory

14 September 1999

Territory Government call to reopen Cox Peninsula welcomed - but why did it take a crisis to respond? -- -

Federal member for the Northern Territory, Warren Snowdon, said today he welcomed the Northern, Territory Government’s call to reopen the Cox Peninsula transmitter station but regretted that it had taken the East Timor crisis to move it to respond.

“I have been consistently calling for the reopening of Cox Peninsula since the decision to close it, while the Northern Territory Government and Senator Tambling have either been mute or indeed negative on the issue,” Mr Snowdon said.

“The Federal and Northern Territory governments have clearly not been focused on our relations with our northern neighbours and we are now playing catch-up. Both Australia and particularly the East Timorese people are unfortunately paying the price.

The Federal Government has:

• closed down Cox Peninsula, which allowed Radio Australia to communicate with Asia.

• refused to continue to subsidise the ABC’s comprehensive ATV news service which reached into South East Asia, as far north as China and west to India, and which has since closed,

• actively prevented the East Timorese community from establishing a HF radio transmitter in Darwin to broadcast vital information into East Timor. This is a facility which would have been of vital importance given what has occurred since the poll result was announced and particularly in the weeks ahead with the arrival of humanitarian aid and peacekeeping forces.

The Government’s decision to block the approval of the HF radio transmitter, despite the enormous energy my office put into attempting to persuade it and the Australian Communications Authority otherwise, is now proving costly and was clearly short-sighted.

“Regretfully, now that a crisis has occurred we are ill-prepared to deal with the issue.

“That it took a crisis for the Northern Territory Government to respond to the obvious need to communicate effectively with our northern neighbours and provide them with a vital and objective source of information is an indictment,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Tliis is a Government which claims to be looldng to our north for its future - a vision I fully support - but it needs to stand up and speak out for what is necessary and in the region’s best interests, even if the Federal Government might find the message unpalatable.

“A lack of vision has been the hallmark of this Federal Government. Its purely economic rationalist approach has prevented it from initiating sound and appropriate policies,” Mr Snowdon said.

Ends Contact: Tony Haritos 08-8945 7400, 0417 804 878


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