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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 1868

Senator KNOWLES —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Communications. In view of the announcement that the merger between the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Special Broadcasting Service will not proceed and that the ABC and SBS budgets will be reduced by $2m, can the Minister give any indication of the effect this will have on proposals to extend SBS coverage into major regional areas? What plans, if any, have been made for provision of an SBS service to the Pilbara region of Western Australia?

Senator WALSH —I will check this out, but to the best of my knowledge there are no plans for an SBS service for the Pilbara region. I find it incongruous, to say the least, that one of the most trenchant advocates of curtailing government spending that the Opposition can produce is in favour of extending the SBS throughout the country. Australia is already one of the very few countries with one national broadcasting network. Senator Knowles, one of the pseudo-dries, the pseudo-rationalists, of this ratty and tatty Opposition, wants to have two national broadcasting networks fully funded by the taxpayers. That is absolutely incompatible with the rhetoric which Senator Knowles's leader preaches and which she is so fond of echoing, perhaps in the hope of catching his attention so that she might finish up on the front bench as a replacement for the latest and newest failed member of the front bench.