The Queensland Government has backed farmers’ calls for the Turnbull Government to deliver on its funding commitment to improve mobile phone coverage in Queensland’s rural and remote communities.
Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said she hoped frustrated farmers wanting to access the latest technology to improve mobile phone efficiency would not be disappointed by Tuesday’s Federal Budget.
“Like the National Farmers’ Federation, the Palaszczuk Government believes the Commonwealth should deliver new funding to help regional communities, where poor or non-existent mobile reception is a major problem,” Ms Enoch said.
“Poor mobile phone coverage is a serious safety issue and hurts local businesses.
“The Turnbull Government cannot afford to let down rural and remote Queenslanders frustrated with mobile phone black spots,” Ms Enoch said.
In a Budget submission to the Turnbull Government, the National Farmers’ Federation said it wanted at least $60 million per annum for the Mobile Black Spot Program, or equivalent program, which prioritises community-identified areas and open-access facilities.
The Palaszczuk Government has already committed around $24 million to deliver 144 new and improved mobile base stations to regional communities across 54 different councils under the Australian Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program.
The Queensland Government is working closely with local councils, Telstra, Optus and the Commonwealth to identify, expand and improve mobile phone coverage and promote digital connectivity.
“This commitment is about investing in telecommunications infrastructure that will improve mobile phone coverage to homes, businesses, schools and government offices,” Ms Enoch said.
“Mobile phone cells will provide new coverage to residents and local business owners where no coverage previously existed while in other areas, the small cells will be used to boost coverage in areas where existing coverage is poor.”
Agriculture Minister and Minister for Rural Economic Development Bill Byrne said the lack of reliable communications is a crucial issue in rural areas.
“There is no doubt that lack of coverage is seriously hampering the ability of producers in some areas to use the latest technologies,” Mr Byrne said.
“Regional development agencies have raised their concerns that it is a major obstacle to investment.
“Anyone who travels extensively in rural Queensland knows they are likely to be out of contact for extensive periods,” he said.