News and Views

Push for better telecommunications in bush

AgForce Queensland is supporting a broad coalition of regional organisations converging on Canberra to press upon politicians the urgent need to ensure regional Australians have access to more reliable and affordable telecommunications services.

AgForce telecommunications working group chair Georgie Somerset said Queensland was the most decentralised state in Australia, and the need for better, fairer telecommunications was the number one issue for people living and working in the bush.

“Effective and affordable phone and internet services provide an economic and social lifeline for regional, rural and remote Queenslanders,” she said.

“It’s an essential part of everyday life and is vitally important for community safety, to support business development, enhance children’s education and maintain social connections.

“That’s why all levels of government and all sides of politics need to collaborate with the telecommunications industry to extend and improve services in the bush as quickly as possible.”

The Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition, which includes AgForce, will meet with almost 50 Federal politicians to champion five key reforms including:

  • A universal service obligation that is technology neutral and provides access to both voice and data;
  • Customer service guarantees and reliability measures to underpin the provision of voice and data services to deliver more accountability from providers and nbn;
  • Long term public funding for open access mobile network expansion in rural and regional Australia;
  • Fair and equitable access to Sky Muster satellite for those with a genuine need for the service, and access which reflects the residential, educational and business needs of rural and regional Australia;
  • Funding to build digital literacy and provide problem solving support for regional, rural and remote businesses and consumers.

Mrs Somerset welcomed the recent formation of a Regional Ministerial Taskforce chaired by the Prime Minister and urged the taskforce to make improving telecommunications services in the bush one of its highest priorities.

“Without leadership and without change, Australia risks growing and entrenching the digital divide between urban and rural telecommunications users,” she said.

“We all need to work together – politicians, industry and the community – to ensure that 2017 is the year we fix telecommunications in the bush.”