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Thursday, 13 May 1993
Page: 625


Senator ALSTON (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (9.52 p.m.) —As I understand it what this proposed new clause does is say that it is not possible for the ABA to grant an MDS licence until such time as the satellite service has commenced. I simply want to point out that if the object of the exercise is to ensure a start up date that is common to both systems, then that could have been achieved just as readily by allowing licences to be granted in the same way that satellite licences will presumably be granted in the relativity near future—on whatever version goes through the Parliament.

  Satellite licensees will then have bankable documents but those who wish to apply to have their MDS licences for broadcast purposes will have to wait on one version—in the worst case scenario—until 1 December 1994. I would be interested to hear from the Minister or from Senator Bourne what harm it is suggested would have flowed from allowing licences to be granted on the understanding expressly that the service could not commence operations until such time as satellite services were operational.