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Thursday, 24 February 2011
Page: 1414

Mr CHRISTENSEN (1:46 PM) —I rise to bring the attention of the House to the tragic death of 17-year-old Che-Nezce Perrie Shepherd, a beautiful, bright young girl who drowned at Bowling Green Bay National Park near Alligator Creek in my electorate on Sunday, 12 December last year. Che-Nezce was with friends having fun at a popular swimming hole when her foot became trapped under a rock. It was raining heavily that day and she was trapped in the rising water. Her friends tried frantically to free her foot and keep her head above the rising water for over an hour, but, sadly, Che-Nezce drowned.

What is so tragic about this story is that the friends trying to save her were also trying to use their mobile phones to call for help—but there was no mobile phone coverage. It is an absolute disgrace that in the 21st century an area just south of a major regional city like Townsville can have such poor mobile phone coverage, a basic service that people in capital cities take for granted. This sad story is an example of what can happen if the problem is not fixed.

Unfortunately, we have a government hell-bent on building this multibillion dollar National Broadband Network project, but people living in and visiting Alligator Creek need adequate mobile phone coverage first. I call on the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and the government to get the basics right and fix the problem of mobile phone coverage in this community. Maybe we can prevent a tragic death like this from ever happening again.