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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 10123

Mr ENTSCH (Leichhardt) (16:39): I rise to present a petition from residents and businesspeople from the Kuranda-Speewah region highlighting the dire state of telecommunications in their region. This petition has 579 signatures and has been found to be in order by the Standing Committee on Petitions. The lead petitioner is my good friend Bob Madden, from Speewah, who has been on a long journey with me in our efforts to improve mobile phone reception. Kuranda still suffers from a very patchy and unreliable mobile phone coverage, mainly due to its very challenging physical terrain.

In addition, broadband internet delivery via Telstra ports is inadequate to meet the needs, forcing people to use satellite services. Unfortunately, either these services have been oversubscribed or the system is unable to deliver usable speeds. The result is that some residents describe their connections as being slower than dial-up. This is very frustrating and unacceptable and seriously impacts on students, businesses and people trying to work from home.

I support the petitioners in asking the Minister for Communications to undertake an analysis of mobile phone reception and broadband delivery throughout the Kuranda area. I have also advocated for Kuranda-Speewah to be included in the list of priority areas to be put forward for telcos seeking funding under the Mobile Black Spot Program. I now seek leave to table this petition.

Leave granted.

The petition read as follows—

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

This petition of the residents and business owners, principally of the Kuranda area of Far North Queensland, but also those outside the Kuranda area negatively affected by inferior communications with the Kuranda area. The Kuranda area is in the Federal Electorate of Leichhardt.

We draw to the attention of the House: That residents and business owners of the Kuranda area experience poor, to no mobile phone service in these various locations listed above. Speewah has no mobile phone reception. Broadband internet delivery is also of immensely inferior standard. Telstra does not provide adequate ports in the exchanges to meet the needs of residents. The alternative available to residents is to use satellite services such as Skymesh, Westnet and the interim service provided by NBNCo. However, these services have either been oversubscribed or the system is unable to deliver usable speeds, with the result that some residents describe their connection as being of slower speed than that of dial-up. NBNCo has plans for delivery of FTTN in some of the village and fixed wireless is to be located at Kuranda village, Kowrowa, Koah and Speewah. Lack of modern day telecommunications severely disadvantages business in the area.

We therefore ask the House to: request the Minister for Communications initiate, through his Department, an analysis of problems connected to mobile phone reception and broadband delivery throughout the Kuranda area and to give urgent consideration to provision of practical solutions, including inclusion in funding through the Mobile Black Spot Programme.

from 579 citizens

Petition received.