Crunch time for submissions in Regional Telecommunications Review

Countryman
A Telstra communications tower in Broome.
Camera IconA Telstra communications tower in Broome. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr

Regional and rural residents plagued by poor telecommunications have just one week left to make their voices heard through a regional review held once every three years.

Submission to the Regional Telecommunications Review close at 5pm on September 30.

The review, held every three years, has been designed to help the Federal Government understand telecommunications in regional Australia and develop policy and programs in response.

The five-person Regional Telecommunications Review Committee — which includes WA’s Moora Citrus owner Sue Middleton — is due to report back to the Federal Government by the end of the year.

Committee chair Luke Hartsuyker, a former Nationals MP, said the focus was on understanding the “adequacy” of broadband and mobile services for people living in the regions.

“The views of individuals, families, businesses and organisations, including those in vulnerable areas, will provide important insight and help inform the final report card,” he said.

“Our focus is on understanding the adequacy of broadband and mobile services for people in regional, rural, and remote areas, how they are currently being used.

“And, crucially, what changes the Committee can recommend to the Federal Government to ensure any issues raised are addressed.”

Other issues affecting consumers in the Review’s terms of reference include the response to COVID-19, ways of improving government coordination, the reliability of local services, and whether current policies to improve connectivity, competition, and digital literacy are effective.

Mr Hartsuyker said feedback on these topics would be vital in setting the Government’s regional telecommunications policy agenda in coming years.

“This is your chance to share your views using telecommunications services in your area,” he said.

“Your input does not need to be long — what we are interested in is the issues that are important to people, as your first-hand insights to this Review will inform government action.

“Previous reviews have led to new rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program, the Regional Connectivity Program, and other initiatives.

“This highlights the benefit of lodging a submission.”

The views of individuals, families, businesses and organisations, including those in vulnerable areas, will provide important insight and help inform the final report card.

Luke Hartsuyker

Federal Regional Communications Minister Mark Coulton unveiled the five-member committee chaired by Mr Hartsuyker in June, which also includes Queensland grazier and co-founder of the Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia Facebook group Kristy Sparrow.

Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering president Hugh Bradlow, who is also Telstra’s former chief scientist, joins the committee along with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chief advisor Michael Cosgrave.

Interested parties can provide a written submission by uploading a response to the consultation page at rtirc.gov.au, by emailing secretariat@rtirc.gov.au, or via post.

View the issues paper at rtirc.gov.au/.

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