Member for New England Barnaby Joyce has welcomed the appointment of an independent committee to examine and undertake a review into regional telecommunications services and declared his intention to again pursue a public hearing for the New England.
The committee, chaired by the Hon Luke Hartsuyker, will review the state of telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia, and will report to the Government with its findings and recommendations by 31 December 2021.
The Committee has been specifically asked to consider:
- The effectiveness of government policies and programs relating to regional telecommunications;
- The impact of COVID-19 on consumers’ access to and usage of telecommunications services in regional communities;
- Issues relating to service reliability in regional areas;
- The opportunities arising from emerging telecommunications technologies; and
- Changes that could be made to further expand digital connectivity in the bush.
“Rural and regional Australians know better than most the value of reliable communications,” Mr Joyce said.
“It’s why I’ve fought as hard as I have to deliver 45 new and upgraded mobile base stations in the New England and to have more than 95 per cent of premises in my electorate ready for service on the NBN. But there is more work to do and this committee will delve further into more ways to provide that support.”
Fellow committee representatives include Ms Kristy Sparrow; Ms Sue Middleton; Professor Hugh Bradlow and Mr Michael Cosgrave.
Federal Regional Communications Minister, Mark Coulton, said the committee members were selected because of their extensive experience in telecommunications, agriculture, regional business, competition and consumer regulation, and community affairs.
“The members have a broad-ranging knowledge of the telecommunications sector and of regional Australia, they appreciate the needs of regional communities, and they will undertake a thorough examination of regional telecommunication issues that will include an extensive public consultation process,” Minister Coulton said.
Mr Joyce said he would again pursue a public hearing for his electorate.
“It was through my advocacy that we secured a public hearing of the 2018 Review here in the New England, allowing local people to air their views on local issues and I will be doing my best to achieve that again,” he said.
The Regional Telecommunications Reviews are conducted every three years under Part 9B of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999.
Further information, including member profiles and the Review’s terms of reference, is available on the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee website.