House debates

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Constituency Statements

Petition: Mobile Black Spot Program

10:26 am

Photo of Matt KeoghMatt Keogh (Burt, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to table a petition regarding mobile blackspots in Haynes and Hilbert, in my electorate, which has been found to be in order by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Petitions. I was contacted back in July by one of my constituents, Blake Foster, who lives in a brand new property in Haynes in the south of my electorate. Haynes and Hilbert are two rapidly growing residential areas in Perth's south-east, which itself is one of the fastest growing regions in the country. Mr Foster could not use his mobile phone in his house. He had not even a single bar of reception. And this problem is replicated in almost every one of the more than 250 homes in Haynes, across every network.

In the 21st century, every person deserves mobile reception—it is not a luxury; it is a necessity—even more so as landline connections slowly become a thing of the past. That includes those who live in remote areas. We have to be realistic, this is a big country and not every square inch will have coverage. But this blackspot is particularly galling for residents in Haynes, as they live just 30km from the Perth CBD.

Photo of Sharon BirdSharon Bird (Cunningham, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Vocational Education) Share this | | Hansard source

The noise is too loud!

Photo of Matt KeoghMatt Keogh (Burt, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

And it is even more worrying for Mr Foster and his partner, Danielle, because she is pregnant, and not being able to use a phone at home is a serious concern for their young family. Worse still, these parts of the south-east are highly bushfire prone, and emergency services alert systems rely on mobile phone reception.

Haynes is eligible for funding for a mobile base station under the Mobile Black Spot Program as a locality on the outskirts of Perth. So I wrote to the Minister for Communications on 3 August this year, asking that any request for funding from a mobile operator for a base station to service Haynes be considered as a priority. I also wrote to Telstra, asking that they consider building such a base station. Almost four months on and the minister is yet to even be bothered to respond.

So alongside the state member for Armadale, Dr Tony Buti, I have been out collecting signatures for this petition, and I am happy to see that more than 120 people have added their voices to our call for the Turnbull government to stop ignoring telecommunications in Haynes and Hilbert. This problem is only going to get worse as more and more people move in to this beautiful new residential area. We need industry and government to step up and build the infrastructure needed to ensure that our outer suburban communities have the same access to basic utilities as those in the inner city.

This petition makes the same request to the minister as my letter. I hope that the weight of community support behind the petition compels the minister to stop ignoring the people of Haynes and Hilbert and afford the highest priority to a new base station in the area. I might add that if it were not for the disastrous delays in rolling out the NBN then we would at least have some communication in the area, but we haven't, thereby making it even more important that this request is heeded by the government.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable the Speaker an Members of the House of Representatives

We, the undersigned, express our concern at the lack of mobile phone reception in Haynes, Hilbert and surrounding suburbs, which is undermining the ability of residents in this rapidly growing area to participate fully in the 21st economy and increases risk to safety in these bushfire-prone areas, where mobile phone communication is essential.

We therefore ask the House to call on the Minister for Regional Communications to ensure Haynes, Hilbert and surrounding suburbs are of the highest priority for the consideration for funding in the next round of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme, and to call on the Minister to write to national mobile network operations to request proposals for funded base stations in this area in the next round of the Mobile Black Spot Programme.

from 121 citizens

Petition received.