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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 1013

Ms LANDRY (CapricorniaDeputy Nationals Whip) (19:45): Life in rural and remote Australia is more difficult than in metropolitan areas. People here make do with fewer services and a lack of technology compared to their city counterparts. So it is pleasing when the Turnbull-Joyce government can make a real difference to helping regional people overcome some of these barriers. I rise today to talk about the positive impact that the federal coalition's $213 million mobile phone blackspots program is having in my electorate of Capricornia, and more specifically to recognise one person who has been instrumental in achieving better services for her remote country location.

That person is Lynise Conaghan of Clarke Creek, about 2½ hours north-west of Rockhampton. Lynise was recently named the Isaac Regional Council's 2017 Australia Day Citizen of the Year. Shortly, I want to outline some of the amazing work that Lynise has achieved. But firstly, I want to briefly outline how my fight to get better mobile phone coverage around parts Capricornia is starting to pay off.

In the last two years we have seen funding for 10 new mobile phone towers, or major upgrades to existing towers, allocated across Capricornia. These commitments under rounds 1 and 2 of the coalition's mobile blackspots program will improve mobile coverage along major transport routes, in small communities and in locations prone to experiencing natural disasters.

So far, new towers have been allocated for Clarke Creek; Marlborough; Mount Chalmers Road, between Rockhampton and Yeppoon;    Gargett, in the Pioneer Valley area of Capricornia, west of Mackay; Stanage Bay Road in the Livingstone Shire; West Hill, in the Carmila district; the Gregory Development Road—A, in far north-western Capricornia; and Bowen Development Road, in the Collinsville district, and there are two new mobile towers for the Bungundarra district near Yeppoon. Up to 21 of the 71 mobile blackspots nominated in Capricornia are being addressed. Along with this, major mobile black spots on the Bruce Highway between Marlborough and Sarina and on the main road between Rockhampton and Yeppoon will also be beefed up. And further coverage will be provided by handheld or external antennas to all or part of the following locations in the Livingstone, Isaac, Pioneer Valley, Sarina and Mackay districts: Cawarral Road, Finch Hatton, Pinevale, Keppel Sands Road, Gargett, Pinnacle, Marlborough,    Mia Mia, Septimus, Clarke Creek, Mirani and Svendsen Road.

I want to return to Clarke Creek, where Lynise Conaghan was named the 2017 Isaac Regional Council's Citizen of the Year. Lynise lives on Barmount Station, about 215 kilometres north-west of Rockhampton in Central Queensland. According to the Isaac Regional Council she has:

… made significant contributions to Isaac, the Clarke Creek community, and the state and national education of geographically isolated children.

As I said earlier, among her key achievements was to successfully lobby for better mobile phone coverage to help local school students at Clarke Creek. Here, it took nearly 20 hours just to download the school curriculum, putting students way behind. It was also difficult to call for help or direct an ambulance when there was a farm or road accident in the area. And local beef producers had issues gaining immediate access to market information online to sell their stock.

When I was elected in 2013, I made it a No. 1 priority to help Lynise campaign. On a visit to the Clarke Creek community I once described it as 'a place worse than Africa' when it comes to mobile phone black spots and internet coverage. Thanks to the influence of Lynise, Clarke Creek is now enjoying better technology. Recently, Clarke Creek State School received the first hardware available to enable it to access new 4GX services via their new mobile base station. This was a first for Education Queensland.

Lynise Congahan tells me that our federal government's mobile blackspot initiative has been a huge game changer for small communities like hers.