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Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 1550

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Communications. It concerns the ongoing problem of the downgrading of Australian Broadcasting Corporation services for the Townsville and Rockhampton regions. I ask the Minister whether he recalls a statement made by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hawke, prior to the last Federal election, which was only 19 months ago, when, in elaborating on Australian Labor Party policies for north Queensland, he said:

. . . North Queensland is far from the major urban centres of population, and there is a tremendous importance in giving particular attention to communications, transport and roads. The ABC-the national broadcasting service- has a staff to service this vast area which is smaller than the staff of the national broadcasting commission in Launceston, Tasmania. . . . a Labor Government will make a grant of $250,000 to immediately start on the upgrading of its services to North Queensland.

That was stated 19 months ago.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Will the honourable senator ask her question?

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —I am just on the point of doing so, Mr President. In view of that election promise, will the Minister please comment on whether or when this sum of $250,000 is to be made available to the ABC for the upgrading of communication facilities for north Queensland?

Senator BUTTON —I certainly recall the words of the Prime Minister to which Senator Bjelke-Petersen referred. They have made a vivid impression on my mind because I wrote them myself.

Senator Peter Rae —So, it was you having a go at northern Tasmania as well? We will remember both of you.

Senator BUTTON —No, as I understand it, northern Tasmania was spoken of with favour in the statement. Insofar as the amount which Senator Bjelke-Petersen alleges has not been appropriated is concerned, I will direct that part of her question to the Minister for Communications and provide her with an early answer .