Government denies “misleading” info on digital assistance scheme

The Federal Government has sought to deflect criticism its digital assistance scheme for pensioners to receive a set-top box is a disaster in the making.

Critics have questioned the expense of the scheme and likened the installation of digital equipment to the failed roof insulation debacle.

But Senator Conroy said claims the Scheme will risk lives and damage business are misleading and based on incorrect information.

The Master Electricians’ claim that the only qualification needed to install digital set top boxes is to complete an online form is not correct.

All installers and contractors must be fully accredited and registered under the Household Assistance Scheme in an accreditation and registration process that has been developed with the industry.

Installers have to provide a lengthy list of criteria:

  • Proof of one year’s experience in the industry conducting antenna installations for digital TV by providing the name and contact details of an industry referee who can verify this.
  • The name, model and serial number of the digital signal meter equipment they use to measure digital signal, bit error rate (BER) and modulation error ratio (MER).
  • Evidence that they (or their employer) have public liability insurance to a minimum value of $5million.
  • Their ABN or the ABN of their employer.
  • Photo identification, for example, a copy of their driver’s licence or passport.
  • A current photo of the installer which must meet the same requirements specified for Australian passport

All documents are checked and assessed by the Digital Switchover Taskforce.

That’s a lot of trouble just to be able to watch Are You Being Served?

Yes, Minister?


  1. I have rabbit ears, and renting yet i have to own my own home to get an antenna how stupid?? so what a poxy set top box 1/2 a job done only?????? Plz explain.

  2. The assistance includes antennae and cabling plus a 24 hr assistance line and in-home warranty. People need to be informed before following the crowd!!!!

  3. Quote:
    Originally Posted by ***** View Post
    Yeah but as per usual this will attract a lot of fly-by-night installers who will find every pensioner needs an antenna/wiring upgrade that comes to $400 all up.

    To qualify to be the government endorsed installer you need experiance, about $5M of public liabality insurance, sit a test and have a meter capeable of measuring BER/MER readings.
    Just the cost of the meter will probably stop alot of the fly-by-night installers.
    Yes a basic single outlet install including new cable, mount, antenna and digital set top box would come to $400. These installs will probably be required by anyone still using indoor rabbit-ears antennas.


  4. Secret Squïrrel

    We can argue about the relative merit of supplying a whole TV versus cheap STBs from China, and whether they should be installed by just anybody or someone capable of installing an upgraded antenna and TV point if required.

    However, as Bazza has pointed out, the govt is forcing the networks to give up their analogue spectrum, so it is right that they provide a working solution for those that are otherwise unable to purchase one themselves. Sure, there are elderly people who go away on a cruise holiday each year, buy a new car, blah blah, but I seriously doubt that they will be receiving the full pension and, if not, they won’t be getting a free STB either.

  5. Those pensioners paid for your upbringing Hunter, you thankless brat. As mentioned, they are having their existing (and perfectly working) television gear broken for them *by the governement*, so it’s only fair the government compensate them.

    Why they didn’t just supply them all with something like 26″ digital TVs, instead of set top boxes, is a bit of a mystery. The cost wouldn’t be much greater and the installation hassles would have been vastly reduced.

  6. Hunter, ur microwave issue is a non-issue

    the fact is that the government isnt going to turn off Analog Microwaves turning over to Digital Microwaves

    Analog TV is being turned off, so u want pensioners who cant afford anything outside of food and bills since prices are so high, want them to be left in the dark?

  7. I still think that they should give the pensioners who qualify a free TV. I forgot that some houses may need an antenna upgrade of some type. I know in some suburbs of Perth for example they needed to have a new antenna and that was in a modern house. I do think it needs to better explained. As at first glance it sounds like they need to pay a specialist $350 to come over and hook up a set top box to a tv. If that’s the case … government I’m available!

    And one last thing. “A current photo of the installer which must meet the same requirements specified for Australian passport
    photos.” That’s going a bit too far! Those photos need to be like that for biometric passport. I can’t see how that’s needed for their ID. I’m surprised they haven’t asked for heigh, weight, hair and eye colour.

  8. Funny that everyone keeps saying, ‘just given em a cheap TV’ — ’cause that wouldn’t cause howls of outrage would it!?

    …and when the analogue switch off occurs, there wouldn’t be any complaints about the poor pensioners being left without TV, would there..?

  9. Pensioners get sweet little as it is, after paying taxes all their life. I don’t have a problem with them getting assistance in upgrading to comply with digital TV, if they need assistance.

    And sometimes it will be more than just plugging in a set top box. There are antennas and wiring to consider especially on older houses that are probably still using the old 1950s antennas which will not cut it with digital.

    I just question whether the Government has the smarts to be able to pull this off without mucking it up.

  10. @ Neilo….the issue here is not the principle of helping out a few pensioners, as that is a nice and caring approach. No the issue is the utter waste of money because of the Way it is being done. A job lot of STB from China would be about $5 @, and I bet the Govt could pick up a large order of 26″ LCDs for less than $100 @.. What is needed is a little more research and a lot more effort. As a taxpayer I have no objection (even if it is a bit namby pamby) to the govt helping out these folk, I just want them to get Value For Money!!!

  11. rachel batta

    If you want to have a laugh about thi, listen to Chris Smith in the afternoons on MTR, he is obessed with this, he even got on Gerry Harvey and spent the next half hour mentioning his company, it was unbelievable

  12. Exactly they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    And what’s this about a nanny state? I thought it was a government’s job to look after the people.

  13. Oh could someone Photoshop ‘who is a fool?’ on that picture?

    Senator Conjobis a complete Luddite!

    Keep spending Labor, well done.


  14. SInce when did it become the role of the government to provide TV at taxpayers expense to residents? I need a new microwave will Labor provide that too? Way too easy to splash around someone else’s money. The sooner we are rid of Gillard, Swannie & CONroy the better off Australia will be.

  15. Typical government, I have no degree and qualifications (like most here) and installed my own STB with now hassle. Yes I’m not an old age pensioner but still for most it’s only a matter of following simple instructions to connect them up. Now I know for some it might mean upgrading there antenna but for the majority this is not the case.

    All of this should be handled by local business that knows the area and I’m sure if they got local retailers on-board then it would cost less and actually work.

  16. The whole process, from the cost down, is a bureaucratic nightmare and one quickly becoming this government’s trademark.

    Why not save all the hassle and just give pensioners a 26in Full HD Television? It’d still cost less than the quoted $400 for this scheme, there’d be no setup required and pensioners would actually have a new television so wouldn’t have a need in the near future to upgrade.

    Utterly ridiculous.

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