House debates

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Statements by Members

Barker Electorate: Mobile Phone Services

1:34 pm

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to raise talk about mobile black spots in my electorate of Barker. Good mobile coverage is essential for economic productivity and safety in rural areas. My electorate, about the size of Croatia, is sparsely populated but it is a hub of economic activity. The flows of agricultural production and industry are high throughout the region and, as such, mobile black spots are a significant economic handbrake. Further, they pose significant safety risks, especially given a majority of modern farming practice is conducted by individuals or small teams in remote locations. The Australian government, cognisant of the danger posed by mobile black spots to regional communities, committed to investing $100 million in telecommunications infrastructure in rural, regional and remote Australia. Unfortunately, due to the failure of the South Australian Labor government to co-contribute to round 1 of the program, Barker received a meagre allocation of two upgraded base stations. This was a fact acknowledged by Minister Gago when I and the member for Grey met with her. South Australia, having failed to make that commitment, received one-tenth of the allocation of Victoria. Mr Deputy Speaker, I am sad and disappointed to tell you that the current minister, Minister Maher, despite repeated requests from the member for Grey and me, will not meet with us on this topic and will not discuss this issue with us. I call on Premier Weatherill to make sure he will speak to us and correct the error of round 1, because, if we miss out on round 2, the people of rural South Australia will miss out.