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Thursday, 25 May 1989
Page: 2675


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade)(12.34) —The honourable senator has jumped in on a question that Senator Calvert was going to ask me yesterday, and no doubt was going to ask me today. Does the honourable senator want me to give her a response now? Can she sort it out with Senator Calvert if I do give a response?


Senator Walters —I apologise as I did not know he was going to.


Senator GARETH EVANS —The honourable senator can make her peace with him and I will give her a reply now. The Government is giving some consideration to the extension of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), which is currently received primarily in capital cities and some country areas. The Minister for Transport and Communications (Mr Willis) is certainly aware of growing interest in regional areas, including Tasmania, in receiving SBS. As a partial response to that interest the Government has initiated two measures which enable country viewers in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania to receive SBS if they have the required receiving equipment. Firstly, the encoding requirement on satellite distribution of the SBS signal was removed in 1987, by me, allowing those with domestic satellite receiving dishes, which pick up the Australian Broadcasting Corporation satellite service, also to receive SBS. Secondly, the introduction of a self-help rebroadcasting reception scheme enables communities to fund satellite reception facilities to pick up the SBS satellite signal and to rebroadcast it for reception in the same way other services are received in the home. For example Wagga Wagga in New South Wales now receives the SBS service through that community self-help scheme, which I would recommend to some of the smaller Tasmanian communities which might otherwise be denied reception.

The allocation of substantial resources is involved in any formal extension of the SBS in other ways to additional areas. The Government is giving consideration to that, and will certainly be taking into account the representations of all the Tasmanian members of this Parliament in our examination of Tasmania, hopefully and possibly being one of the first areas to receive the SBS service. Again I make the point that obviously there are resource implications for this which may make it difficult otherwise than through the self-help scheme or the direct satellite reception options to which I have referred.

Proposed expenditures agreed to.

GROUP C

Department of Finance

Proposed expenditure, $6,230,000

Department of the Treasury

Proposed expenditure, $24,933,000

Department of Employment, Education and Training

Proposed expenditure, $27,845,000