By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: The Minister responsible for the set top box handout, Senator Stephen Conroy, has today released a set of “Facts” to support the $350 average cost, concerns regarding the safety of the operation and the installation process.

After the scheme was announced last weekend in advance of its inclusion in the 2011 federal budget, the Government has been criticised by all sides of the industry, including noted foes Ruslan Kogan and Gerry Harvey. Senator Conroy released these self-described facts this afternoon as part of his ongoing attempts to sell the plan to the public.

In a release to media, his office clarified that the $350 is not just for the cost of a set top box, but will be spent, on average, across the following:

-Administration costs for Centrelink.
-The set top box itself.
-Installation of the set top box and any re-wiring, antenna adjustment and demonstrations.
-An in-home warranty.
-Access to a free hotline.

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Conroy also made it clear that all installers and contractors must be fully accredited under the Household Assistance Scheme. The Government is determined to not let this scheme become embroiled in the same controversy that affected its failed insulation scheme.

“Service contractors involved in the delivery of the scheme are required to have policies and procedures in place in relation to occupational health and safety; training, awareness and competence; risk management; incident management; specific safety issues; electrical safety; unsafe premises; and working in restricted spaces and on roofs,” said the department release.