House debates

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Constituency Statements

Petition: Telecommunications

10:14 am

Photo of Rick WilsonRick Wilson (O'Connor, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to table a petition on behalf of Katharine Marsh, a young woman from a farm near Kojonup in my electorate over O'Connor. I know Katharine is watching this morning so hello to Kojonup. Katherine has presented the parliament with a petition of 18,919 signatures regarding triple 0 call access in mobile blackspot areas. She has been campaigning to raise public awareness and lobbying the government to increase mobile blackspot funding such that all Australians can connect to an emergency service in their time of need wherever they may be.

Katherine's campaign arose through her own personal tragedy when her partner, Mick McInnes, died following a quad bike accident last year, leaving her widowed and pregnant. Sadly, the accident occurred in a mobile blackspot area with no triple 0 access. Mick was able to walk away from the accident but Katherine and her family were unable to raise the alarm by mobile in their time of need. The deployment of emergency services was delayed by over 20 minutes. Whether this time frame would have changed the outcome for Mick, no-one will ever know, but I give enormous credit to Katherine and her family for taking up this cause with such passion in their time of loss.

I know they recruited an army of willing volunteers Australia-wide and personally collected signatures from all over O'Connor. They engaged local government authorities from coast to coast and secured support from peak bodies like the Isolated Children's Parents' Association, the WA Farmers Federation and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association.

As I table this petition today, I am pleased to report that the government is responding to the needs of regional Australia with more mobile phone towers. In June 2015, the government committed $100 million for the construction of new and upgraded towers across Australia. A total of 133 out of the 177 nominated mobile phone blackspots in my electorate will be eliminated at a cost of $53.4 million. The $60 million round 2 will be announced imminently, and during this year's election campaign the prime minister committed another $60 million for a third round. In addition, I will be urging the government to look at innovative solutions where private operators can tap into the backhaul of existing infrastructure to provide micronetworks that will deliver mobile phone and data service to areas that fall outside of the current commercial network coverage.

As a farmer living in a mobile blackspot area myself, I would welcome a reliable mobile phone service for safety and farming operations.

I conclude with optimism that, together, government and business using evolving technologies will provide mobile phone connectivity for all Australians. In tabling this petition I commend Katharine Marsh for her dedication to making sure that every Australian has 000 phone access regardless of their location.

The petition read as follows—

Document was not available at the time of publishing.

Petition received.