Mr Deputy Speaker Llew O’Brien, I, like you, spend a lot of time listening to constituents and, overwhelmingly, the same topics come up again and again and again. One of those topics for those of us who represent rural, regional and remote Australians is the need for better mobile telecommunications—or, more to the point, the need to avoid mobile black spots. Our Mobile Black Spot Program has delivered 867 new mobile phone towers and coverage to almost 32,000 Australians and their businesses. My father—and I have spoken about him in this context before—is a 70-something-year-old farmer who acts like a 20-something-year-old farmer. We are incredibly worried, as many people living in rural and remote Australia are, when farmers are working in remote locations and they don’t have mobile phone connectivity. Mr Deputy Speaker, I, like you, understand that our mobile phones are effectively our first piece of safety kit.
The fourth round of the Mobile Phone Black Spot Program is currently under consideration, and I have been working, as I am sure other members in this place have been, to ensure my projects are given the best prospect of success. That is all very well and good, but I am here to say that what we need in addition to round 4, where priority sites will be identified shortly, is a rolling program—a commitment to a long-term funding package, which ensures that mobile phone programs and the subsidy for their rollout is provided for over many years going forward. Personally, I think if we commit to that and provide certainty for the telecommunications companies and certainty for communities then we will be much better for that.