The SBRC will continue to seek funding to bring superfast broadband to the South Burnett (Photo: Alpha Stock Images)
SBRC Regional Development portfolio chair Cr Kirstie Schumacher

March 17, 2022

South Burnett Regional Council will seek Federal Government funding for its plan to bring superfast broadband to the South Burnett after the State Government failed to back the project.

At Wednesday’s Finance and Corporate Standing Committee meeting, Cr Kirstie Schumacher said Council’s recent $2.7 million application to the Resources Community Infrastructure Fund (RCIF) had been unsuccessful.

The money would have enabled the Council to build a 42km optical fibre cable linking an existing high-speed outlet at the Tarong Power Stations to Kingaroy’s CBD.

The link would have increased 1Gb/sec internet speeds to 10Gb/sec, servicing the Nanango and Kingaroy CBDs with the cable and the rest of the region via microwave transmitters.

The Council’s plan to bring superfast broadband to the South Burnett was announced last August when Councillors voted unanimously to submit an application to the first round of the $100 million RCIF program.

Cr Schumacher said superfast broadband would be a “game-changer” for the region.

“This project will reduce congestion on the existing NBN service and provide increased affordability through the competitiveness of expanding access to multiple ISPs,” she said.

Cr Schumacher said it would also open up many growth opportunities for the region, including enhanced automation capacity for manufacturing and processing.

Since it was announced, the plan has drawn support from a wide range of regional businesses including Bega Cheese, Bean Growers Australia, Plenty Foods, Riverina Stockfeeds and Kewpie Stockfeeds.

Cr Schumacher said the next step would be to apply to the Federal Government’s Digital Connectivity Program to see if the necessary funding can be secured there.

* * *

An emerging “digital divide” is holding back Queensland’s regional development, according to a new report released on Thursday (March 17).

Poor internet and mobile phone coverage was one of six key impediments highlighted in the Queensland section of Infrastructure Australia’s Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps report.

Nationwide, the report said improvements to poor broadband and mobile phone coverage were “increasingly crucial to the economic and social wellbeing of regional Australia”.

Other major impediments to growth identified by the report are:

  1. The availability, diversity and affordability of housing
  2. Water security
  3. Access to further education and skills training
  4. The capacity, connectivity and quality of public transport
  5. Freight and roads

The report also suggested the size of the “digital divide” grew worse the further west of the Great Dividing Range a region was located.


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