Barwon deserves it's share of $400 million mobile and connectivity fund
As I travel across Barwon, the issue most commonly raised with me is mobile phone service or the lack of it.
It seems that everyone has a story about the local phone tower dropping out and not coming back online for days at a time – days without EFTPOS for businesses, days without telehealth in hospitals, days without connection to emergency services, days without internet.
In 2020, this isn’t good enough.
We saw in the lead up to the election last year the Deputy Premier announce $400 million for faster mobile and internet coverage in regional NSW.
The funding is now used for a project called the Regional Digital Connectivity Program; under this fund, case studies into digital connectivity were announced. The case study locations – Dubbo and Wagga Wagga – two major regional cities that are hardly experiencing the same connectivity issues we have in the west.
I asked the Deputy Premier who is also the Minister for Regional New South Wales, if he would undertake a case study within the Barwon electorate to consider the impact that poor connectivity has on the quality of education, businesses and social cohesion in the far west of the state.
The answer I received from the Deputy Premier – the Department is currently engaging with stakeholders.
A case study in the west would actually provide significant data on the challenge of providing good connectivity in the bush. If the Government was serious about taking up the challenge, they would be looking out west.
This week in Parliament, I will be asking the Deputy Premier if we can’t be one of the digital connectivity case study areas, will he spend part of the $300 million set aside for mobile blackspots – because I have a list of towns that desperately need an upgrade – Tilpa, Louth, Tooraweenah, Little Topar, Carinda, Menindee, Sunset Strip, Weilmoringle, Silverton….
The people that live in our towns shouldn’t be forced into a situation where they can’t get online or make an emergency phone call. We in Barwon deserve the same access as everyone else!