Better services for bush
HAVING better access to reliable and affordable phone and internet services is essential for people living, working and travelling in regional, rural and remote areas.
We need good services to run our businesses, educate our children and stay connected with family and friends.
While AgForce was initially disappointed not to see new funding in the Federal Budget, we welcomed the recent announcement there will be a fourth round of the Mobile Black Spot Program.
The focus of this
$25 million will be to improve phone coverage along transport routes, in small communities and in tourism hot spots with seasonal demand.
We’ll be lobbying for funding to go to areas of Queensland that missed out in earlier rounds of the program.
Better phone and internet services can also translate into better farm gate returns, but we need to provide support to build the capabilities of users as new technologies become available.
That’s why AgForce has been advocating for governments and service providers to back a Telecommunication Innovation Project to employ independent and trusted advisers that would provide regionally located extension and technical support.
The aim would be to provide independent advice so primary producers know what services are available and what the best solution is for their individual circumstances.
With greater connectivity comes greater opportunity, yet we must ensure there are the skills out there to ensure we get the economic and social benefits.
In the meantime, AgForce has an escalation process in place for members having challenges with NBN and Telstra.
This provides a designated path for our members to seek a quicker solution when issues cannot be easily resolved through the usual processes.
If you have an issue with NBN or Telstra, get in touch with your regional manager or call the AgForce office.
Finally, I’d just like to urge readers to get involved in the Federal Government’s Regional Telecommunications Review that is under way at the moment.
This review only happens once every three years and considers the adequacy of services, the National Broadband Network, the Universal Service Guarantee, the Mobile Black Spot Program and how to maximise the economic benefits of digital technologies for regional communities.
While organisations like AgForce will be involved, the beauty of these reviews is they provide an opportunity for individuals to tell their stories first hand.
This is vital to ensure policy makers understand the unique challenges we face in the bush and that we can play a role in addressing these issues.
Primary producers are well-represented on the review committee, which includes Queensland beef producer, co-founder of BIRRR Australia and AgForce member Kylie Stretton, as well as Victorian dairy farmer Paul Weller.
MAKING CONNECTIONS: AgForce will be lobbying for the Mobile Black Spot Program to focus on areas of Queensland that missed out in previous rounds of the program.