Queensland LNP Senator Barry O’Sullivan reckons he’s probably worn out the better part of his throat and tonsils with the number of conversations he’s had about improving telecommunication infrastructure in rural and remote Queensland.
In fact, one of the first promises he made when he arrived in Canberra in 2014 was to roll out his swag in front of the Communications Minister’s office and refuse to leave until there were some promises delivered to rural communities.
Senator O’Sullivan said some of this hard labour was finally paying dividends with the announcement that North West Queensland has secured a $17.15 million telecommunications package to construct 18 new or upgraded base stations across the region.
This latest round of Federal Government funds will provide mobile coverage for townships such as McKinlay, Normanton and Urandangi as well as crucial outback thoroughfares such as the Barkly Highway, between Mount Isa and Camooweal and the Wills Developmental Road, between Burketown and Four Ways.
In total, 55 of the 157 identified mobile black spots in the North West will be covered by this latest round of funding.
While it will never come soon enough for some, Senator O’Sullivan said there is a “sure and steady transformation” taking place across rural and remote Queensland this year, with significant rollouts of telecommunication and NBN-satellite technology linking many communities for the first time.
He said while there was still much work to be done to lift the standards of connectivity in the bush, the gradual delivery of telecommunication infrastructure was providing clear evidence of the Federal Government’s commitment to rural Queensland.
“Pushing for telecommunications funding in Canberra is almost a blood sport among politicians,” Senator O’Sullivan said.
“Every region wants to gain a bigger and bigger slice of the limited funds available and it gets very competitive.
“Australia is so vast and the demand for connectivity is so strong that the government has no choice but to roll out this infrastructure in a gradual way.
“I think North West Queenslanders can take real pleasure from the fact they have been assured a massive share of this latest funding round.”
The Mobile Black Spot Programme will deliver almost 500 new or upgraded mobile base stations around Australia, with a total funding commitment of $385 million.
This is the most significant one-time increase in mobile network coverage to regional and remote Australia delivered by a single public funding programme in the history of mobile communications in Australia.