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Thursday, 27 May 1993
Page: 1442

Senator COLLINS (Minister for Transport and Communications) (11.11 a.m.) —I will just clarify a few issues first. The decision, however welcome, to locate TV Asia in Darwin was made by the ABC. I can just explain one of the reasons why. Prakash Mirchandani has just come back. It is actually cheaper to fly from Darwin to points in South-East Asia than it is to fly from Sydney to Darwin, the reason being that it is half the distance. For TV Asia to be truly effective, and in terms of the interaction between the region and the broadcaster, which is what they want, it cuts the administrative expenses down enormously to have it based in Darwin, rather than have to fly twice the distance from Sydney to the last Australian—

Senator Kemp —We are not questioning the decision.

Senator COLLINS —There was just a hint there, but it was in fact an ABC decision. I just make that clear. Of course, I must say that I welcome it; and Senator Kemp is quite rightly lobbying for Melbourne to be the headquarters of pay TV.

Senator Teague —And Port Pirie.

Senator COLLINS —`Senator Kemp', I said, Senator Teague. I can give Senator Kemp some precise information on this. The ABC is actively looking at sites in both Sydney and Melbourne. They are the two cities in which they are actually examining property. No decision has been taken yet. So all I can say is, `Lobby away, Senator Kemp, and good luck to you', because no final decision has been taken. As far as the final decision on the location is concerned, obviously there will be a management decision on it, but that would be a matter that would be referred either to the board of the ABC or to the board of the subsidiary organisation. Of course, in this case they are setting up a separate organisation for pay TV, but obviously the board either of the ABC or of the subsidiary would have to finally ratify the decision. The matter, I can assure Senator Kemp, is still open and Melbourne is being considered as a site.