Member for Barker Tony Pasin has welcomed the tabling of the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review Report in Parliament this week.
The report delivers a comprehensive set of recommendations to Government to further improve telecommunications access in regional, rural and remote communities across Australia, including in the Barker region.
This statutory independent review is conducted every three years to assess the adequacy of telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia.
The review committee lead by Chair, the Hon Luke Hartsuyker, has worked tirelessly to deliver a comprehensive ‘report card’ on regional telecommunications. This was informed by a strong consultation process, which saw over 650 written submissions and delivered 24 virtual consultations.
The 2021 Hartsuyker Review sets out 16 key findings in relation to Australian, state, territory and local government investment in digital connectivity, the reliability and resilience of regional services, the ongoing ‘step change’ in data usage, and connectivity literacy and digital inclusion.
Member for Barker Tony Pasin said the Federal Government has implemented many impactful initiatives following previous Regional Telecommunications Reviews.
“These include the Mobile Black Spot Program which to date has generated a total investment of more than $875 million to deliver more than 1,270 new mobile base stations across Australia and the Regional Connectivity Program, including the Regional Tech Hub, which is $171 million worth of investments.”
Further investments in regional communications have been made through the $37.1 million Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) package, the $68 million Connecting Northern Australia and the $16.4 million Peri-Urban Mobile Program (PUMP).
“The Coalition Government has made significant improvements to telecommunications in regional areas since 2013 but its not nearly enough,” Mr Pasin said.
“Mobile phone service is an example of where we need further investment – not just from Government but the telcos need to come to the table in a much bigger way.”
“There are currently almost 400 community identified mobile blackspots in Barker. This is a very clear indication to our telecommunications companies that more needs to be done to improve mobile service.”
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t speak to a constituent who complains to me about having to pay for a mobile phone service they are unable to use for much of the time. I can confidently say it’s the number one issue raised with me by constituents.
“I think I speak for many when I say that the Telco’s commitment to rural and regional Australia is very disappointing. Their level of service hasn’t kept up with changes to technology. The Coalition has incentivised investment in mobile telecommunications in many regional areas but beyond this the telcos are letting our regions down.
“They are very quick to adopt rural imagery in their promotional material but very slow to match that with improved infrastructure and better services.
“I am proud to have had input to this Review by making a submission. I’d like to thank people across Barker who also provided input to the Review – it is important communities across Barker are heard and taken into account in the Government’s response.
“The report also sends a clear message to the Telco’s that things need to improve,” Mr Pasin said.
In summary, the Report’s recommendations are:
The Federal Government will deliver a strong response in the coming weeks, including any initiatives to be delivered through the 2022-23 Budget process, set to be delivered by the Treasurer on 29 March.
The full report and list of recommendations is available at: www.rtirc.gov.au