Lack of investment in infrastructure in remote Oz is shame

Senator Barry O'Sullivan has toured remote Queensland and says a dramatic priority shift was needed by politicians when deciding how telecommunications infrastructure funding was prioritised and committed.
Senator Barry O'Sullivan has toured remote Queensland and says a dramatic priority shift was needed by politicians when deciding how telecommunications infrastructure funding was prioritised and committed. Peter Holt

AUSTRALIA'S long term economic potential is being jeopardised by a lack of telecommunications investment in rural and remote regions, says Queensland LNP Senator Barry O'Sullivan.

Senator O'Sullivan, who sits with the National Party in Federal Parliament, has just returned from an eight day tour of Far-Western Queensland where every single community and local government leader expressed ongoing frustration that their regions were falling behind the rest of the nation in access to affordable and reliable technology services.

He said there was also a clear message from locals that they felt their economic contribution was being overlooked by Canberra.

Senator O'Sullivan said a dramatic priority shift was needed by politicians when deciding how telecommunications infrastructure funding was prioritised and committed.

"Policy decisions too often focus on the number of people living in a region and not the economic output of the area," Senator O'Sullivan said.

"Rural and remote regions punch well above their economic weight and underpin the wealth of the rest of our nation, yet are too often overlooked or ignored when delivering even basic infrastructure. Some infrastructure is almost third world. 

"This is both unacceptable and unsustainable. We need these regions to prosper because of their significant economic contribution to the national coffers.

"Rural and remote regions are wealth generating regions and they need much higher consideration when we are determining priority infrastructure."

Senator O'Sullivan said declining international commodity prices for iron ore and coal was making Australia increasingly reliant on a strong and vibrant agriculture export sector.

However, he said our international competitiveness was under threat wherever rural and remote business operators did not have access to reliable technology.

"There are significant export opportunities for our agriculture sector in the coming years and decades," he said.

"We must ensure our farmers are able to compete on a level playing field in the global marketplace and in the 21st century that means access to fast and affordable wireless broadband, mobile phone reception and reliable landline services."

Senator O'Sullivan said there was no more urgent example than the exclusion of the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires from receiving optic fibre services under the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The areas are currently in the 3 per cent of the population who will receive a satellite-only service.

"The councils currently have a proposal before government that would deliver optic fibre services to the regions and I believe the Federal Government should agree to it," Senator O'Sullivan said.

"Ratepayers in these two shires are willing to contribute $13,000 per person in additional costs to fund this project, which every other Australian takes for granted.

"This is technology that all Australians are not only entitled to, but will increasingly rely on. We simply cannot afford for the bush to fall behind the rest of the nation."

Senator O'Sullivan said he would consult with federal colleagues in the coming weeks about whether there is a need for a Senate inquiry to investigate the current state of telecommunications in rural and remote Australia.

"I am deeply concerned about the widening technology gap between city and country in this nation," he said.

"Quite frankly, the lack of investment in basic infrastructure for people living in remote Australia is a shame on our nation.

"It is a shame on the previous government and if there is no action taken soon, it will be a shame on the current government as well.

"We ignore this plight at our own peril."

Topics:  technology

Lauga meets with Spinal Life Group

HIGHER UNDERSTANDING: (from left) Councillor Rose Swadling, Patricia Lieschke, Carl Lieschke, Elaine Hans, Robynne Clifton, Anne Guthrie, Kathy Watson and Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga MP attend the Post Poliion and Spinal Life Group meeting.

Local spinal group shares their concerns for more support.

Kim is sold on Rocky's Garage Sale Trail

THIS WAY: Kim Flenady was one of numerous houses in Rockhampton this week who took part in the Garage Sale Trail

'We've had about nine or 10 people through'

Local Partners

Lauga meets with Spinal Life Group

THE need for critical treatment, equipment and understanding was high on the list of topics at the Rockhampton "Post-Polio and Spinal Life Group" meeting.

Your chance to win

Learn More

Former Split Enz front man Tim Finn finds new niche

Singer Tim Finn has written the music for theatre production Ladies in Black.

Musician finds his way to theatre

WHAT'S ON: Your guide to entertainment and events this weekend

AWARD WINNING SHOW: Tequila Mockingbird can be seen at St Brednan's College, Yeppoon on Saturday.

LOOKING for something to do this weekend?

Garage Sale Trail finds treasure in trash

Richard Morvell from Trendy Trash Rockhampton, Cr Neil Fisher, and Craig Dunglison, Manager of Rockhampton Regional Waste and Recycling gear up for Garage Sale Trail.

Bargains galore on offer at garage sales this weekend

Leonardo DiCaprio nearly drowned while filming

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio

Oscar winner almost drowned in Galapagos

Miranda Kerr to wed next year

Supermodel Miranda Kerr

Supermodel and Snapchat founder to wed

What's on the small screen this week

Georgia Love pictured in a scene from The Bachelorette finale.

TWO big reality shows wrap up this week while

Brad Pitt won't file legal response to divorce petition

Brad reportedly refused to send off the paperwork

Azealia Banks won't take legal action against Russell Crowe

Rapper Azealia Banks

Rapper drops legal action against Russell Crowe

Brad Pitt meets with his kids amid divorce proceedings

Actor Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt has met up with his oldest son Maddox

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track