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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1314 asked in the Legislative Council on 31 October 2019 by Hon Ken Baston

Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on

TELSTRA OUTAGES

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 these outages?

(2) If yes, in what capacity, and what progress has been made to resolve this ongoing problem?

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:

I thank the member for a very interesting question.

(1)–(2) I 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.