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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 130

Ms KEAY (Braddon) (16:06): I rise today to reiterate an issue which is very important to the people of my electorate. In the previous parliament, my predecessor, the former Liberal member for Braddon, presented a petition on behalf of residents of Sulphur Creek in relation to a lack of mobile phone reception in the area. However, despite the former member's presentation of the petition in August 2015 and a subsequent promise, in the lead-up to the federal election, for mobile black-spot funding, Sulphur Creek residents have been left with no guarantee of when this commitment will be forthcoming and were misled that this commitment would be delivered sooner rather than later. Thanks to the many hours of work put in by Sulphur Creek resident Brian Britt and the intervention of my office, we have received some hope that Telstra is now taking this issue very seriously.

To support this work, I would like to table at the end of my contribution an additional petition which has met the requirements of the Petitions Committee and has been approved for tabling. This petition will hopefully bring to the House's attention the ongoing failure of this government to deliver on its commitments.

In May last year, the former Liberal member told Sulphur Creek residents: 'A re-elected coalition government will immediately invite mobile network operators to bid for this new funding to provide coverage in the identified locations at the earliest opportunity.' But a funding announcement in December for new mobile phone base stations at Temma and Yolla saw residents of Sulphur Creek, Gunns Plains and Devonport missing out on promised mobile black-spot funding.

While I welcome the allocation of funding for Temma and Yolla, I ask the minister and her Tasmanian Liberal Senate colleagues to tell me when Sulphur Creek, Gunns Plains and black-spot areas of Devonport will have mobile reception. Is it therefore conceivable that the residents of Sulphur Creek will be waiting possibly until the end of this year for the third mobile black-spot funding round for confirmation of the commitment? Will they then be waiting several more years for the required infrastructure to become operational?

I have zero confidence in the Turnbull government's approach to this program. For example, Sisters Beach residents have been waiting for two years since the funding was allocated in round 1 and are still waiting for a final date when the new equipment will be operational. Following a meeting last year with residents and businesses at Sulphur Creek with the shadow minister for regional communications, Stephen Jones, I wrote to the minister about this issue and have not received a response. Additionally, late last year, I convened a public meeting at Sulphur Creek with Telstra, and it is pleasing that Telstra is now proactively working to find a solution for these residents sooner rather than later.

I table the petition and sincerely hope this matter will now be given the attention it deserves by this government.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs Wicks ): I thank the member for Braddon. For the benefit of all members, I note that this petition has been received and approved by the Petitions Committee.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives

This Petition of residents and visitors of Sulphur Creek on the North-West Coast of Tasmania draws to the attention of the House, the lack of mobile phone coverage at Sulphur Creek and the difficulty this causes residents and business owners.

We therefore ask the House to consider allocating finding under the next round of Liberal Coalition's Mobile Phone Black Spot funding programme to the Heybridge, Preservation Bay and Sulphur Creek community to ensure all residents and visitors have access to essential Services.

from 78 citizens

Petition received.