Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 13 October 2011
Page: 11928


Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (11:58): by leave—I rise to table a petition of 400 signatures as a document. The petition calls for, firstly, an urgent review of the provisions of telecommunications in the Pyrenees shire, in particular a lack of reliable mobile coverage and high-speed broadband, and, secondly, the lobbying of Telstra to upgrade services to a standard appropriate to 2011. The petition is from residents of the Pyrenees shire in the electorate of Wannon and asks the House and the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to consider the two recommendations put forward.

It is important that this is tabled as a document because the lack of mobile telecommunications is a vital issue in the shire of Pyrenees. The response that I got from the minister for telecommunications to the letter I wrote to him on this issue is extremely disappointing because for the first time it stated very clearly that the federal government, the Gillard government, has no money to give to smaller communities to assist them in getting provision for mobile telecommunications in their communities. There is nothing for mobile towers. This is a sad state of affairs because, in 2007, $2 billion was set aside for the provision of telecommunications in regional and rural areas. The interest on that $2 billion annually went into providing telecommunications to those areas where it might not have been commercially viable for Telstra, Optus and other telecommunications providers to put those services in. Four years later, we have no money from the federal government to assist these communities.

I take this moment to congratulate the Pyrenees Shire Council. Given that the federal government will not allocate any money, they have had to step in. They have offered $40,000 for one of the telecommunications providers to put a mobile tower in Moonambel. Once again, this is appalling cost shifting from the federal government onto local government. The Pyrenees Shire Council has had to come in and offer this money, when the federal government should be doing exactly that. I again call on Senator Conroy to abandon the $43 billion folly which is the NBN and instead put that money back into providing telecommunications services, and in particular broadband telecommunications services, in country areas.

These 400 signatures clearly show that there is community concern in regional and rural Australia about the lack of telecommunications and, in particular, mobile telecommunications. The minister needs to act. He stole $2 billion which had been earmarked and allocated to provide central telecommunications in regional and rural areas and has put it into his NBN folly and left regional and rural Australia abandoned as a result. It is time he recognised that there is life outside big urban centres and that the provision of mobile telecommunications enables those communities also to receive broadband through those mobile towers. We need to put back in place a government program which assists small communities to access these vital telecommunications.

The people of the Pyrenees shire have spoken on this. There are signatures from 400 people calling for it. Now we need to see some federal government action on it. If not, they should get out of the way. They should call an election, go to the people and get out of the way so a decent government can come back into this parliament and govern for all Australians. Rural and regional Australians are getting sick of the way the Gillard government are treating them. It is time that the government started realising that people exist outside urban areas and want proper services. They need to provide some funding so we can get decent mobile telecommunications in country areas.

I seek leave to table the petition as a document.

Leave granted.