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February 26, 2009

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has called on the Federal Government to improve the reliability of the ABC Radio signal, given ABC is the designated emergency services broadcaster in the region.

Mr Chester has told Federal Parliament that many Gippslanders were unable to obtain vital fire updates when the ABC’s Mt Tassie transmitter was impacted by the recent bushfires.

“The Gippsland ABC team, led by Gerard Callinan, did an outstanding job as the official emergency services broadcaster and I commend all of the staff involved for a remarkable effort in extraordinarily difficult conditions,” Mr Chester said.

“But many constituents have already contacted me to express concerns about the reliability of the ABC signal, which was disrupted, particularly when the Mt Tassie transmitter came under direct attack from the fire front.

“Since the ABC is the designated emergency services broadcaster, it is obviously imperative that they are permitted to maintain optimum performance in transmission at all times.”

Mr Chester said, in the absence of an early-warning system, Gippslanders depended on their ABC Radio broadcasts for up-to-date information in emergency situations.

“Gippsland does present many geographical challenges when you are broadcasting across mountain ranges to many isolated communities, which just heightens the need for a reliable service,” Mr Chester told Parliament.

“I urge the Minister to explore all options to ensure the ABC signal remains loud and clear in the future.”

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