House debates

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Statements by Members

Macquarie Electorate: Telecommunications

1:35 pm

Photo of Susan TemplemanSusan Templeman (Macquarie, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The wind storms at the weekend have heightened fears for people who live in and around Bilpin. While fires burnt just across the mountains, they lost power and they lost phone coverage and, in the early hours of the morning, the backup batteries for the mobile phone tower died. So there was a group of people who had no communication whatsoever for more than 14 hours. As the Bilpin Rural Fire Brigade wrote to me, even more concerning was the fact that the SOS function wasn't available. Residents were unable to contact emergency services or access the SMS alert system. So, had there been an incident—a car accident or a bushfire—they had no way of getting word out, and the Bilpin Rural Fire Service had no way of activating its volunteers. In fact, they had to turn down a request from Hawkesbury fire control to provide a team for the Tenterfield fires because they simply couldn't contact members.

Remember, in 2013 Bilpin had to deal with the impact of fire, isolation and extensive power outages as a result of the State Mine fire. It isn't good enough that the backup batteries at the Telstra tower in Bilpin need to be immediately replaced with a generator before it contributes to a fatality. And they're not alone. Throughout my electorate we need better mobile coverage. Some places don't have any. I want to give a shout-out to every Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains rural fire brigade volunteer who's headed north to help fight the fires. Our thoughts are with you.