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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3093


Senator MICHAEL BAUME(10.41) —Tonight will probably be the last opportunity many of us will get to address the Senate-I suppose some will say: `Thank heavens for that!'-before the Christmas recess. I would like to take this opportunity of saying a few things briefly. Firstly, this is an exciting and stimulating chamber. One certainly has opportunities of becoming much more involved in the operations of government, examining those operations, asking questions about them and discovering the extent to which those questions can remain unanswered. Nonetheless I must say that it is a chamber I have found immensely stimulating. However, I will briefly raise three items.


Senator Gareth Evans —You will get over it.


Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I do not have to stimulate myself.


Senator Short —I hope you do not get over it.


Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I thank the honourable senator. I do not have to stimulate myself; I am stimulated by the environment here and the many issues that we have the opportunity to take up. Before this session finishes, I would like to mention in passing that one of the disappointments I have had has been the failure of any government response to the matters that Senator Reid and I raised over Bowen Island, where the Government involved itself in immense expense from 1 January this year to provide an inadequate service protecting the fairy penguins that are on that island by throwing out the leaseholders and providing some kind of alternative supervision. Heaven knows what it is but it is certainly inadequate, judging from the management action plan that I have now got hold of from the office of the Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes). It is totally inadequate, totally unsatisfactory and involves a set of proposals which, had they been serious, should have been in operation for many years.

Ninety per cent of that island is under the control of the Department of Territories. Yet all of a sudden, when it gets rid of the leaseholder, who has looked after the island so well for 30 years without any public criticism-there is certainly no substantiated criticism from the Department-we now find a management plan which is ludicrous. It talks about developing longer term programs for managing more widespread and persistent species-kikuyu in particular-to monitor rabbit control programs, control rats and other feral animal species. If the Department has not been doing this all the time it damn well should have been. To use the need for a coherent management plan as part of its devious desires to get rid of the people who have been looking after the island for so long at no expense to the Commonwealth indicates a level of arrogance and incompetence within the Department which is absolutely appalling. I will not keep the Senate long. It is a shame that the people who have done so much to keep the island in good shape will be deprived of its pleasure. I am reminded of one matter. It is extraordinary that in a sanctimonious way the Department now says that it is going to initiate the control and removal of foreign plant species. The lessees have been complaining to the Department for years about the bamboo stands that have grown on the island; the lessees are not allowed to take any action on this matter. But now that at last the Department is throwing out the lessees, it says that it is a matter of such major importance that it has to throw out the lessees to do it. What utter bunkum!

I come to the second matter I wish to raise. I hope that the Government will take some note of the very many petitions I have been submitting to the Senate on the Government's plans to force WIN4, the local television station in Wollongong which extends to the Victorian border, from VHF to UHF. This is a disaster for many people in the region, particularly those who cannot afford the conversion necessary, involving $110 or so for an aerial, and it is an even more expensive conversion for those who do not have UHF receivers. I have received from WIN4 the detail of a survey done by the Illawarra Regional Information Service into the attitude towards UHF transmission. The findings are summarised as follows. Only 3.4 per cent of households in the region have installed UHF aerials, 2.6 per cent since the introduction of the local SBS Program. About 82.5 per cent currently have unacceptable or no reception of Channel 59/44-that is, UHF. Some 43.7 per cent of households will not install UHF receiving equipment, regardless; the majority of these do not presently receive or have the capacity to receive Channel 59/44. Further, 52.3 per cent of households able to receive SBS on 59/44 said that their reception was not as good as Channel 5A/2. The television station comments in this way.

It is now evident that the public at large is not enthusiastic towards UHF and is thoroughly confused as to its implementation. Although we recognise that these results may be affected by the special programming nature of the SBS--

which is the only UHF programmer in the region--

it is clear that the public response to UHF is not positive; indeed if the Illawarra went totally UHF with five channels at Knights Hill and another 5 at Brokers Nose mayhem would reign supreme and the viewer would continue watching the readily available, easily identifiable, Sydney VHF transmissions. I conclude that the Illawarra must in the main be served by VHF transmissions. To do otherwise, especially a total UHF solution, will result in considerable loss of audience with consequential loss of viability.

That is to WIN4.

The Illawarra would lose its local station.

As you are aware commercial television derives its revenue from the sale of airtime and rates are set dependent on audience numbers. The results of the IRIS research simply mean that if WIN is forced onto UHF, revenue will drop by over $4m per year.

The UHF option requires most of the 111,700 television households in our viewing area to instal a UHF antenna and 20 per cent of them to instal a down converter. The approximate cost, installed for a down converter is $150 and antenna, $110. The total cost for our community to continue viewing their local station: $15.3m.

I am hopeful that the Government will take notice not only of the many petitions-over 1 000-I have presented in the last couple of days, but also of the very many letters that are now being sent to the Government on this matter.

I raise one other matter briefly. I have a very good friend, Mr Ron Saw, with whom I used to work. He is a journalist on the Bulletin and has asked me to draw the attention of the Senate to a problem he suffered. He in fact suffered a stroke. He has advised me of some information of which I think the Senate should be aware. This information is that on the basis of studies by health authorities in Australia, some 31,000 people can be expected to suffer a stroke each year in Australia. Of these, approximately one-quarter-nearly 8,000 people-will become stroke victims before the age of 65-that is, during their working lives-and half of the victims will be aged between 65 and 75. Of those people who suffer a stroke, approximately one-third will die within three months of the attack, but this leaves two-thirds with a residual handicap that they and their families must learn to cope with. At any time there are about 180,000 stroke victims in Australia. Of these, some 1,600 will be in acute care hospitals, 16,400 will be in long term care institutions, and 160,000 will be at home but will be requiring help from either day care centres or day hospitals, rehabilitation help or home support.

I have a letter from Mr P. G. Newton, a Director of the Australian Brain Foundation, whom my friend Ron Saw asked to contact me, which states:

Extending the United States research figures to Australia, stroke and its effects is estimated to cost the Australian community from $1 billion-$2 billion a year. More significantly, a reduction in the incidence and prevalence of stroke in Australia to the American levels would save several thousand deaths per year and significantly reduce the residual level of suffering in the community.

The following is the part that I want to stress:

The Australian Brain Foundation has received from the Federal Government, a grant of $68,000 for the 1985-86 year to assist the Foundation with its stroke program. The booklet, `Understanding Stroke', was produced with the help of this fund.

In addition, the Australian Brain Foundation is endeavouring to raise funds to help launch programs in the following areas:

Education

Prevention

Care and Diagnostic Procedures

Aftercare-in hospitals and at home

Rehabilitation.

Apart from the grant noted above, the only funds available come from private donations and these so far are quite inadequate . . .

As stroke is the third major killer after heart attack and cancer, I think-the Senate would no doubt agree-it should receive greater attention. I simply draw to the attention of the Senate the fact that, as Ron Saw has pointed out to me, many other health problems receive great media attention and cause great excitment, yet stroke is one of those that seem to slip by. Most families in Australia have a member who has suffered a stroke. My mother suffered a stroke at one stage. I think all of us certainly should have some concern about this difficult health problem. It is not difficult so much because it kills so many people but because it immobilises so many people, who then become problems to themselves and to their families. I make the point which Ron Saw made in an article, that death at the rate that I have just discussed makes the acquired immune deficiency syndrome seem to be no more than a passing epidemic of piles.

Ron Saw obviously feels strongly about this matter. He has triumphed over this problem and no doubt feels angered by the enormous media attention to AIDS, which perhaps is excessive in relation to the lack of attention that stroke is getting. I hope that the Australian Brain Foundation is fortunate in its future activities and can attract wider public support and sympathetic support from the Senate. Mr Acting Deputy President, although it is a day premature, in case I do not get the opportunity later I wish all honourable senators, you and, of course, the Clerks a very happy Christmas.