July 12, 2013
Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss has again called on the Federal Government to extend mobile telephone coverage to Widgee.
Mr Truss said he had pursued Telstra and the Federal Government about the issue for many years, but now he was taking the fight up with the new Communications Minister, Anthony Albanese.
“I have written to the new Communications Minister, Anthony Albanese, asking him to identify a program or offer special assistance that would extend the mobile network to Widgee,” Mr Truss said.
“Widgee has suffered from repeated severe weather events and particularly in those circumstances, locals and visitors need mobile coverage to call for help.”
Mr Truss said the previous Coalition Government had a mobile phone “black spots” program which provided assistance to telecommunication providers to build new towers in uneconomic areas.
“Labor axed this program and has done nothing since to extend mobile phone coverage,” he said.
“I have raised the issue in the Parliament, I have written to the Chief Executive Officer of Telstra, Mr David Thodey, I have raised it with Telstra Country Wide staff, and I wrote to the former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.
“With the latest change to Labor’s Ministry, I am asking the government to finally have a change of heart and respond to the community’s need.
“While telecommunications companies should recognise that they have a social obligation to roll out telecommunications services in regional communities where those services might be less viable, the government will need to help.
“The government must ensure that regional communities which do not have access to mobile telephony or fast, reliable communications services receive priority.
“Instead of targeting its NBN to capital cities and duplicating existing services, taxpayer-funded improvements to mobile and broadband communications should target those under serviced communities where the need is greatest.”