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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 571

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Communications to reports in this week's Press which suggest that the Federal Government's decision to favour a transmission technology known as B-MAC is causing alarm amongst the industry and future rural recipients as well. Will the Minister please comment upon claims that remote and isolated outback inhabitants will have to pay thousands of dollars for expensive receiver equipment which will pick up, in the early stages, only the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and, in the later stages, only one commercial television service? Can the Minister also clarify the suggestion that the high costs and limited receiver potential could lead to a thriving black market in decoders which have the capacity to pick up more than one station?

Senator WALSH —I can neither confirm nor deny the early part of the question. I will seek a response to it from Mr Duffy. However, I know that there has been an enormous increase in capital expenditure on broadcasting services, principally within the ABC, in recent years. I understand also that Senator Bjelke-Petersen's Party favours reduced government expenditure. In other words, the inference to be taken from her question is that she wants to have it both ways. She wants both to reduce capital expenditure and to have Rolls-Royce technology for everybody no matter what the marginal cost. But of course that is a characteristic of the type of thinking that dominates politics in her Party in her State, the end product of which we are now seeing with the dreadful condition of the Queensland economy, which is dragging down the rest of the nation.