Critics pan Australia’s plan to give pensioners free digital TV boxes

The Australian government has expanded its programme to give people on pensions free digital set-top boxes; however, only a third of people took advantage of the offer in the original programme, The Australian reported today.

Government funding reached A$70 million for the first stage of the Household Assistance Scheme, however, less was spent, as only 35 percent of people used the programme. The expanded amount is now $308 million.

Analogue television began being switched to digital last June, beginning with regional Victoria, followed by South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and capital cities until mid-2013.

The scheme has been widely panned, as it was revealed that the boxes cost $30 each, yet the programme ends up paying $400 for each. The package includes installation, wiring, a lesson in using it and a year of access to a technical support helpline, according to the Herald Sun.

Image: Household Assistant Scheme homepage

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