Local, Independant and Effective
October 27, 2015

Government must fund regional telecommunications recommendations

The Federal Government must act on recommendations from the Regional Telecommunications Review 2015. The review was tabled in Parliament late last week.

Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, is calling on the Minister for Communications, Senator Mitch Fifield, to immediately fund the recommendations, including: 

  • Investing in filling market gaps
  • Creating Government Consumer Communications Fund to subsidise essential regional services
  • Expanding the Universal Service Obligation to include mobile phones and internet – with new customer communications standards
  • Establishing whole-of-Government approach to internet coverage in disaster-prone areas  
  • Optimising long-term satellite service capacity and performance to enable lifting of restrictions
  • Increasing NBN fixed wireless footprint, including pro-active co-investment

“The purpose of the review was to see whether people in regional Australia had equity to telecommunications services, clearly the answer is no,” Ms McGowan said. “Together with train services, telecommunications is the biggest issue in Indi and this highlighted at the Indi Summit last Saturday.”

“The Turnbull Government’s messages are ‘innovation is key to our future’ and ‘we are open for business’,” Ms McGowan said. “This will only be made possible in Indi and regional Australia when the Government funds the infrastructure.” 

February 2016 marks the seventh anniversary of Black Saturday. Communities in bushfire-prone areas still have little or no mobile phone coverage and many missed out in round one of the Mobile Black Spot Programme.

“It’s imperative these areas are given priority in Round two in 2016,” Ms McGowan said.

“I give my full support to the establishment of a program to provide internet access to people living in disaster-prone areas.”

The Indi Telecommunications Action Group meets this Thursday in Wodonga. Top of the agenda will be how ITAG lobbies Government to introduce these recommendations.

The Regional Telecommunications Review 2015 can be found online.

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