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Thursday, 12 October 1972
Page: 1552

Senator PRIMMER asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

(1)   Is it a fact that an Omega station causes radio and telephone interference up to 20 miles from its centre.

(2)   Does the Royal Australian Navy propose to install Omega receiving sets in any of its vessels; if so, what will be the cost of the sets.

(3)   Can low-frequency transmissions from an Omega station penetrate sea water to a depth of between 40 and50 feet and thus permit communication with submarines at those depths.

(4)   Is the main control centre for the Omega system at Hawaii, United States of America.

(5)   Can the centre at Hawaii alter the phase shifts and inject codes into the system without host countries being aware.

(6)   Has the Japanese Government the right to close down an Omega station located in Japan whenever it chooses.

(7)   Why did the Government of New Zealand decline to allow an Omega station to be established in that country.

(8)   Is there a blank transmission area of 600 miles surounding each Omega station.

(9)   Has the United States Navy been the main body concerned with Omega's development.

Senator COTTON-The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senators' question:

(1)   Not generally. However interference is possible into wire small 'capacity' carrier telephone systems of a type which is used in some rural areas. The Agreement currently being negotiated with the U.S. will recognise this form of interference and make adequate provision to overcome it.

(2)   Yes. The actual cost of sets will not be known until tenders have been called.

(3)   Yes. However the purpose of the system is not communications but purely a navigational aid to ships on the high seas and there will be no ability in the Australian station for mobile communications.

(4)   The Omega system has no centralised control, but all transmitters operate independently. Transmitters need to be synchronised and synchronisation is achieved by local adjustments at each station. The Hawaiian station has a role in these adjustments only inasmuch as it coordinates the measurements of all the stations in the system.

(5)   No.

(6)   The Government is not aware of such a provision having been included in the U.S.Japanese Agreement.

(7)   The Government of New Zealand to our knowledge, was not formally approached by the U.S. although preliminary investigations were carried out in both New Zealand and Australia.

(8)   The signal within 600 miles of the Omega station is usable but accuracy within that range is expected to be poorer than in areas at greater ranges.

(9)   Yes.

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