Thursday 15 June 2006
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, poor or non-existent television reception affects voters in every Legislative Council division in Tasmania. Although it is a Federal Government issue and most anger is aimed in that direction, it is an issue that we cannot ignore. All political representatives tend to be blamed for the problem of just one level of government. But I would like to inform colleagues in this House of a growing anger in their own electorates. It is interesting how some issues fall flat but others seem to take off. Issues which grow in public perception often depend on the determination and persistence of individuals or groups to gain momentum. The issue of television reception around Tasmania is a case in point. The problem has been taken up by a very disgruntled West Tamar resident, Ken Wagg, who lives in my electorate of Rosevears. Mr Wagg has been campaigning about his own and some neighbours' virtually non-existent TV reception in the Exeter region, without much success.
Mr Wilkinson - Did he get Finch's Tasmania?
Mr FINCH - I will send him a copy. But to attract media attention some months ago he protested up a tree, forcing his long-suffering wife to go and stay with friends because it was very, very dangerous. He has lobbied a Launceston-based Liberal Senator without result so he has taken his campaign on his motorbike around the streets of Launceston making, as he himself puts it, 'An idiot of myself'. He received some publicity but little political response.
Mrs Rattray-Wagner - I responded.
Mr FINCH - But now Ken Wagg has broadened his campaign to take in the whole State including Apsley. He has taken his motorbike and sidecar, complete with a TV set and aerials, to just about every community in Tasmania, to find that poor television reception affects some people just about everywhere. During two months of travelling the State he has collected thousands of signatures for a petition to the Federal Government. Mr Wagg has drawn up a map with areas of poor reception marked on it. I will just make sure the honourable members can see that. They are the areas of poor reception in Tasmania that he has received from his petition that he distributed to those areas and Mr Wagg says, and I will quote:
'I will not know what the results of my effort will be, but I can guarantee that when I have finished no politician will have the excuse of saying the problem is not in my area.'
Tasmanians in many places have been putting up with poor TV reception with little complaint for years but they feel isolated and frustrated by what seems to be an intractable problem. However, if Mr Ken Wagg's campaign continues to gain momentum they will have a united voice which might well be heard in Canberra. I believe it is up to all elected representatives to listen to him.
The immediate question is, of course, what can be done about patchy broadcast reception on a mountainous island like Tasmania. How do you solve the problem? Is satellite reception the answer? Perhaps there should be more relay transmitters to fill in the blanks. Federal black spot funding, while it lasted, helped in some areas although in some areas it was not very successful. Digital transmission may be the answer. I would suggest that most people are ignorant about transmission technology and that Federal broadcasting authorities are doing virtually nothing to educate them. It may well be that many reception problems could be rectified by television owners themselves with a little help. Many country residents have found the digital set top box to be the answer; others, a change of aerial type or location and by that I mean the location of the aerial. At the very least Mr Wagg's campaign might persuade the Federal authorities to set up a more effective help and information service if it is too much to ask for more relay stations around Tasmania. It could well be that the situation will be improved when the Federal Government finally stops prevaricating over the national change from analogue to digital, but in the meantime I suspect that Mr Wagg's campaign is not going to go away. Expect him and his motorbike back in your electorate soon.
Mr PRESIDENT - For the benefit of the readers of Hansard, the areas on the map are spread generally throughout the inhabited parts of Tasmania.