A pledge by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to spend a $60 million fixing mobile phone black spots in regional, rural and remote Australia has been welcome by farm groups.
AgForce vice-president and telecommunications committee chair Georgie Somerset said the need for better telecommunications connections and services was one of the biggest issues in the bush.
“Having access to fast, reliable and affordable mobile phone and internet services is now an essential part of everyday life. It’s vitally important for community safety, to support business development, enhance children’s education and maintain social connections,” she said.
“A report out earlier this month laid bare the data drought confronting regional, rural and remote Australians with 88 per cent of the 6000 people surveyed saying current data did not meet their needs and 73 per cent saying they did not have reliable mobile phone coverage.
“Today’s announcement from the Federal Coalition will be warmly welcomed by regional, rural and remote Australians who are crying out for better telecommunications services and connections.”
Mrs Somerset said the original $160 million mobile phone black spot programme had been well received with new towers now in operation in regional communities like Toobeah, Quilpie and Jambin.
“The initial mobile phone black spot programme was heavily oversubscribed so greater investment was needed and we look forward to communities being involved in determining the most suitable locations for new towers,” she said.
“The solutions to the data drought will require all levels of government to collaborate with the telecommunications industry on infrastructure investment.
“For example, increased investment in fixed wireless roll-out would also enable local WiFi platforms. These WiFi platforms can then support businesses and education in rural and regional Queensland with high speed, reliable and affordable data.
“The Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) survey confirmed that regional Australia’s data and connectivity needs were a long way from being met by current policies and plans.
“It’s now vital Federal Labor matches this commitment so regional, rural and remote Australians can be assured that all sides of politics understand the importance of affordable and accessible telecommunications services.”