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Bush mobile must improve – for productivity, safety and community

By AgForce Connectivity and Social Policy Chair Peter Thomson

I think most of us in the bush have learnt to manage – in our stoic, ‘let’s get on with it’ way – with sub-standard services, whether it be roads, healthcare, or internet.

But that doesn’t mean we should accept it. One of the reasons I joined AgForce was to add my voice to like-minded producers and ensure we are heard in George Street.

And that’s why I am backing AgForce’s Stand With Regional Queensland campaign to make a difference. Especially with the State election approaching.

One of the issues that needs to be addressed is the patchy mobile phone and internet coverage that we work around every day.

An AgForce survey of members found only 11 per cent had more than 50 per cent coverage on their properties – imagine that when the average producer pays around $1,500 a month for internet.

This clearly not good enough.

If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted is that ALL of Australia needs reliable, high-capacity voice and data connectivity.

Connectivity is not just critical to our farm businesses and helps keep us safe in the paddock, it is vital to the very fabric of our communities. It’s what unites us across the vast distances of rural Queensland.

But for many rural Queenslanders, it is not yet a reality.

AgForce has been vocal and active for many years to improve these vital services, working collaboratively with members, rural communities, Government and service providers.

We must– and will – continue to push the Mobile Black Spots Program.

We also have to partner with providers – including AgForce corporate partner Telstra, who have been amazing in this area – to develop innovative place-based solutions to improve mobile coverage in those ‘hard-to-reach’ areas.

Mobile phones are no longer just used for phone calls.

A lack of reliable coverage creates practical problems for those living in the bush and these must be solved if agriculture-driven regional communities are to lead us out of the COVID recession.

If you’d like to support us, jump onto our Stand With Regional Queensland Facebook page to see how you can join us in the fight.

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