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Tuesday, 3 April 1984
Page: 1140

Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(9.12) —The Democrats commend the Opposition on moving this amendment. However, my party cannot support the amendment for reasons I gave in my second reading speech, plus the brief comments which I shall now make. The Opposition amendment alters the obligations of Aussat to include the provision of full commercial broadcasting and television services to remote areas. That is a commendable idea and indeed is the rationale behind the satellite. However, the provision of a free commercial service does not satisfy the requirement of specialised and relevant broadcasting for remote communities. We believe that there are options for broadcasters using the satellite other than existing commercial operators which would better serve the interests of remote communities. It is a savage indictment that remote communities will have to wait until about 1986 or 1987 for relevant broadcasting. In our view, that service should not now be compromised by creating an obligation that it has to be commercial. We understand the thrust of the Opposition amendment but, for the reasons I have given, the Democrats cannot support it.