The announcement by the Federal Government that there will be a fourth round of the Mobile Black Spot Program has been welcomed by AgForce.
AgForce Telecommunications Committee Chair Georgie Somerset said the need for more affordable and reliable phone and internet services is one of the biggest issues for people living, working and travelling in the bush.
“We were disappointed there was no new commitment to further address mobile phone black spots in 2018’s Federal Budget so the announcement by Minister for Regional Communications Senator McKenzie of a fourth round is very welcome,” she said.
“Phone and internet services are an economic and social lifeline for regional, rural and remote Queenslanders and need to be more reliable and affordable.
“The fourth round consists of $25 million which has been re-purposed from existing programs to improve coverage in black spot areas across regional Australia.
Mrs Somerset said the focus of this round will be to improve phone coverage along transport routes, in small communities and tourism hotspots with seasonal demand.
“AgForce will be lobbying Minister McKenzie to ensure that this next round will go to areas of Queensland that have missed out on funding from the program so far,” she said.
“The previous rounds have seen mobile coverage improvements to remote locations such as Injinoo at the top of the Cape, around Quilpie in the South West and across significant transport corridors.
“The people of those communities have been given a lifeline and can now run their businesses more effectively.
“A member telecommunications survey undertaken by AgForce in 2015 showed just 39 percent had reliable mobile phone connections, while almost 20 percent had no mobile connection at all.
“Agriculture is the fastest growing industry in Australia and one in seven jobs in Queensland was either partially or entirely supported by the food sector so an investment in agriculture is an investment in the nation’s future.”