House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


Longman Electorate: Telecommunications

4:17 pm

Photo of Susan LambSusan Lamb (Longman, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to call once again on the government to fix the mess that they've made of our nation's communications infrastructure. My office receives telco and NBN related complaints every single day of the week—that's right—including Saturdays and Sundays by email. And I'm sure we'd receive more if our constituents could actually make some calls.

Just last week, I hosted the shadow minister for regional communication, Stephen Jones, in Longman. I asked him to come along to talk to residents and business owners about our appalling infrastructure. Together we visited Palm Lake Resort Beachmere Sands. It's a retirement village at the beautiful seaside town of Beachmere. We visited there after having heard from their tireless advocate Pauline Holehouse. I might just take a moment to commend Ms Holehouse. The amount of energy she's put into trying to get this issue resolved is truly impressive.

It was great to speak with Pauline and the other residents at Palm Lake Resort, but it was horrible to hear what this government expects them to put up with. You see, they cannot get mobile phone coverage in their own homes. This isn't some remote area. They live about an hour's drive north of Brisbane's CBD. In fact, one resident told me that he had far better reception on a recent trip to Papua New Guinea than he gets in his own home.

Well, Deputy Speaker Goodenough, as I'm sure you'd understand, not having cellular coverage is having an adverse effect on their day-to-day lives. They can't receive a call from their kids or their grandkids without reception. They can't call their doctor without reception either. As they have had a number of landline dropouts over the last few months, it's not like they can rely upon the landline either.

It's an absolute mess, and this government just does not seem to care. The residents have been waiting for a new mobile-blackspot tower for some time now, but we're still waiting. I've tried writing to the Minister for Regional Communications about this, but nothing much has eventuated. 'Soon' is all I've ever been told—'soon'. 'Soon you'll get it.' But 'soon' isn't good enough. It's not good enough for the many seniors living in Beachmere who have to live with this inferior infrastructure.

It's not good enough for one of the residents, who told me she has to stand in the corner of her backyard to get reception. Imagine being elderly and having to stand outside to make or receive a call. It could be the dead of night. It could be the middle of winter. This lady has to leave the comfort and safety of her own home just to take or make a call. What if she had a fall? What then? This just isn't good enough.

Earlier today, Ms Holehouse delivered a petition to my office in Caboolture calling for action. The petition has 163 signatures and I expect that it will have many more shortly as the wider community of Beachmere get involved. It's not just the Palm Lake Resort people who are suffering because of this. Beachmere deserves a communication infrastructure that is fit for 2018. Many of the seniors that live in Beachmere and the surrounding areas, including Bribie and Ningi, out to Caboolture and Morayfield, would have had more reliable communications, I'm sure, when they were born than they do now. It's unreliable and unsafe for many of the residents who live there. Residents at the resort also told me that they have safety links in their home that are connected to their landline. When the landline goes down, as it has three to four times in the last couple of months, and you need to be able to pick up your mobile phone in time of need, that can't happen when you live in a black spot.

Can I finish by saying that this House is not the quiet carriage on a Queensland Rail train. This House is where the voices of Australians are heard. So, as the member for Longman, my job is to represent the people of Beachmere, to bring their voices down here to Canberra. I will not be quiet until this is resolved and people get the telecommunications infrastructure they need and deserve.