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Australia's External Territories capacity to dial home to be examined

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M e d i a

R e l e a s e

A U ST R A L IA ,,u

T H E H 0 ^ 1 A L E X S O M L Y A Y M P

Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government


The Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories is set to inquire into communications and telecommunications within Australia’s external territories following a reference to the parliamentary committee by the Federal Minister for Territories, Alex Somlyay.

The Minister said the inquiry is a vital issue for people living on Australia’s external territories because residents of the territories are experiencing a variety of difficulties in accessing communications services.

His comments came following visits to the, Indian Ocean Territories and Norfolk Island recently.

“The government has a commitment to deliver the same level of access to communications services in these remote places as are currently enjoyed by fellow citizens in comparable areas of mainland Australia.

“The terms of reference for the inquiry include an examination of the communications services now available on the external territories and a comparison of the services with those available in Australia generally. - -ยทยท ............ ; .

“Further I want the joint committee to identify the elements of a comprehensive and modern communications service required by the residents of the external territories for internal use and for communication with Australia and the world,” said Mr Somlyay. .

He said a number of communications issues have been raised with him by residents including television and broadcasting service access, the upgrading of the standard telephone service and ability to participate in the growing online economy.

“I believe the committee will hold hearings on Cocos, Christmas and Norfolk Islands. Evidence will be taken from residents of other external territories including Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Heard and McDonald Islands and the Australian Antarctic Territory.

“The timetable for this inquiry is naturally a matter for the committee to consider, however I am pleased to advise that the closing date for submissions is the 24 April 1998, which will allow a speedy start to the process,” Mr Somlyay said.

He said further information can be obtained from the Secretariat of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories on 02 6277 4564.

Ends 19 March 1998

Contact: Graeme Hallett (Media Adviser) 02 6277 7060 S25/98