Last chance for the government to stop the shortwave radio switch off

With the Northern Territory due to lose its essential shortwave radio service tomorrow, the Government is ignoring Labor’s calls to do all it can to continue this critical communications service and ensure listeners in the bush are not cut off.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

STEPHEN JONES MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, TERRITORIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

MEMBER FOR WHITLAM

 

 

LAST CHANCE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO STOP THE SHORTWAVE RADIO SWITCH OFF

 

With the Northern Territory due to lose its essential shortwave radio service tomorrow, the Government is ignoring Labor’s calls to do all it can to continue this critical communications service and ensure listeners in the bush are not cut off.

 

Labor has been campaigning against the ABC’s decision to cease shortwave transmissions since it was announced in mid-December, and has had regular contact with the ABC and affected communities and stakeholders.

 

This includes our letter to Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, as well as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten writing to the Prime Minister asking him to work with Labor, ABC management and local stakeholders to ensure the continued provision of shortwave services. Both letters have gone unanswered.

 

Despite Labor’s direct representations, and the valid concerns of the many people who rely on shortwave radio, the Government has failed to act.

 

The Government has simply been missing in action on this issue, with Senator Nigel Scullion only belatedly speaking out against the change, and Senator Fifield tut-tutting the ABC for its lack of consultation at the eleventh hour.

 

Labor believes that the national broadcaster should be readily available to listeners across Australia, including the minority of listeners in remote areas who rely on shortwave radio.

 

Labor understands that the reality of life in the bush means that Viewer Access Satellite TV (VAST), Satphones and internet services are no substitute for shortwave radio for those listeners who are remote and on the move in particular.

 

And thanks to the Turnbull Government’s stuff-up of the installation of the NBN Sky Muster service, the digital divide between the cities, rural and remote areas is getting worse, with far too many customers getting second-rate telecommunications services including slow and unreliable broadband.

 

The Liberals, and their colleagues the Nationals, claim to care about the bush but it has been Labor leading the campaign against the ABC’s decision to shift resources from remote areas to the capitals.  

   

The inaction of the Liberal-National Coalition on shortwave radio, and their disastrous budget cuts to the national broadcaster, prove they couldn’t care less about people in the bush or the ABC.

 

MONDAY, 30 JANUARY 2017