1314. Hon KEN BASTON to the Minister for Regional Development:
I refer to the ABC Kimberley report
published today on Facebook regarding ongoing Telstra outages experienced by
towns and communities in the north.
(1) Has the
Department of Regional Development engaged with Telstra in an effort to reduce
(2) If yes, in
what capacity, and what progress has been made to resolve this ongoing problem?
ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:
I thank the member for a very
note, as the member is no doubt aware, that telecommunications is a commonwealth
government responsibility, as outlined in
the Constitution and the Telecommunications Act 1999, so, really, this question
should be directed to the federal government. However, we are well aware of the
traditional shortcomings of federal services into Western Australia. We
regularly, through the department, follow-up with carriers when advised about outages by community members.
The Western Australian government also recognises the shortfall between
regional community needs and federal government support. This has compelled us
to take action in initiatives such as the highly successful digital farm grants
program, which was designed to address gaps in regional digital connectivity.
In fact, earlier this month, I wrote to Hon Mark Coulton, the federal minister,
seeking an urgent comprehensive review of the mobile blackspot program
guidelines for round 6, as the guidelines remain unchanged from previous rounds
which has resulted in decreased uptake by telecommunications carriers and a failure
to consider changing technology environments, particularly as candidate sites
are extending into increasingly marginal areas.
There is a real problem. We are doing
what we can to try to focus the attention of the federal government and also to
fill in the gaps, but I would strongly urge the member to speak to his federal
colleague Hon Melissa Price and perhaps ask her to get the federal government
to take this issue seriously.