Bet­ter ser­vices for bush

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News - GE­ORGIE SOM­ER­SET

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.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

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.

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