By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: Senator Stephen Conroy, the Minister responsible for the rollout of digital television, is once again heralding the success of the Federal Government’s Household Assistant Scheme, despite recent criticisms from retailers.

The Household Assistance Scheme, which is being run in conjunction with the digital rollout, has been set up to assist “some of the most vulnerable people across Australia” in making a smooth transition to digital television, according to a spokesperson from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

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"The Household Assistance Scheme has now helped around 40,000 households to successfully convert to digital television since its inception in January 2010 for the Mildura/Sunraysia switchover," said Senator Conroy.

"My Department has been actively monitoring the rollout of the program to make sure it is delivered in compliance with the rigorous contractual requirements we place on the appointed contractors and helps those who really need it.

"In response to the delivery of the Scheme across regional Victoria, the percentage of complaints to installations is 0.56 per cent— less than 1 percent,” said the Senator, citing a recent Newspoll survey.

These comments come following a long debate over the Set-Top Box scheme, with retail heavyweights such as Gerald Harvey and Ruslan Kogan offering scathing criticism of the government’s financial management.

“These devices are extremely easy to install: it usually takes just one cable from the set top box to your TV,” Kogan said. “As technology experts, we know that the Government is proposing to spend far too much by allocating $350-plus to each installation of a set top box.”