Image for Government Set Top Box program to be expanded in Tasmania

Treasurer Lara Giddings today announced a range of measures which will broaden access to vital telecommunications services for all Tasmanian low income earners.

On the back of the Federal Government’s Budget announcement that all pensioners will benefit from a new television Set Top Box, Ms Giddings unveiled plans to help more Tasmanians access the information superhighway.

``The Federal Budget has provided funding to ensure some of our most disadvantaged citizens will continue to enjoy cutting-edge television viewing when analogue broadcasts cease in 2013,’’ the chubby career politician said.

``My Government is committed to ensuring all poor Tasmanians, not just pensioners, don’t miss a single minute of their favourite television viewing.  To make that happen, the State Budget will divert funds from non-essential health spending and provide all holders of Commonwealth Concession Cards with new communications infrastructure.’‘

Ms Giddings said with most Tasmanian households already owning at least three high-definition digital LCD or Plasma screen televisions, the Government’s focus would be ensuring concession card holders were able to pause, rewind and record their favourite television programs.

``I can guarantee that as a minimum, poor Tasmanian families will benefit from a new Western Digital Media Centre, with most people qualifying for the HTC Media Link, which boasts high-bandwidth streaming across most home theatre networks,’’ she said.

``Of course families will retain the option of being given an Apple TV adaptor, which will provide seamless wireless connectivity with IPods, IPods and most MP3 players.’‘

Low income earners without television reception may nominate to receive a teflon-coated George Foreman Grill as an alternative.

Ms Gidding said with Tasmania still suffering the impact of the GFC, her Budget initiatives would provide a much-needed boost for the State’s IT sector.

``The tough Budget position means all of my departments will face cuts, but our hard-working public servants can be assured if they are made redundant, then at least their daytime television viewing will be as good, or better than it would have been in their taxpayer-funded tea rooms.’‘

``In fact my Government has gone one step further in ensuring that public servants don’t face the risk of being underfunded in retirement.’‘

Ms Gidding said with the Budget position so difficult and RBF reserves shrinking, it was imperative to reduce the impact on future Budgets of public sector retirement costs.

``From 1 July this year, instead of enjoying 9% superannuation contributions, all public sector employees will benefit from a Saturday Night Superdraw ticket which will be included in fortnightly payslips.’‘

``You’ve got to be in it to win it,’’ Ms Giddings said.  ``And most Tasmanian families would rather have the potential for a millionaire lifestyle in retirement than run the risk of us not being able to pay their meagre superannuation benefits in a few decades anyway,’’ she added.

Ms Giddings said public servants would no longer need to rely on the Retirement Benefits Fund for advice, as it has been sold to a Bangladesh call centre.  ``From 1 July onwards, retirement planning will be as simple as checking whether your lucky numbers came up at your local newsagent,’’ Ms Giddings simpered.