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Wednesday, 13 November 1985
Page: 2072

Senator McINTOSH —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Communications aware of community concern in Bunbury, Western Australia, over the construction of a satellite earth station there for use by Golden West Network? Can the Minister inform the Senate of what those concerns are and of the Government's attitude to them?

Senator WALSH —I am aware of such concerns, although I am not sure how widespread they are. When the Golden West Network was recently selected by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal as the most suitable applicant to provide Australia's first remote television service, for reasons of security, to minimise technical and operational difficulties and to contain costs the company sought permission to construct the earth station in a car parking area within its existing premises. The application was opposed by the Bunbury Council in whose shire GWN is based and by local residents on the grounds of their concern about the impact of the earth station in terms of aesthetics, increased local traffic and possible electromagnetic radiation hazards.

I am advised that the Council originally dealt with the other matters but deferred its decision on the possible electromagnetic radiation hazards pending advice on that question from its works committee and the provision of further information by GWN. The Bunbury Council subsequently approved construction of the earth station after GWN had produced statements from NEC Australia Pty Ltd, Aussat Pty Ltd, the Western Australian Department of Health, the Royal Perth Hospital and Dr Repacholi of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. GWN arranged for Dr Repacholi, who is an authority on the biological effects of electromagnetic radiation, to speak directly with Council members. Given that the Council has now withdrawn its objections, I expect construction of the station to proceed.

For the information of honourable senators, I table a diagram prepared by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission entitled `Comparisons of Electromagnetic Energy Levels', which provides an interesting pictorial comparison of energy levels from various sources, including satellite dishes, fluorescent lights, human bodies and other natural sources. It is in pictorial form, so even the National Party of Australia should be able to understand it.