The new coalition is set to push for better communications services for consumers and small businesses living in rural, remote or regional areas
It includes the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), the Country Women’s Association of NSW, the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association and AgForce Queensland.
“The Coalition was formed to highlight the collective concerns of families, businesses and communities in rural and regional Australia about the lack of equitable access to reliable and quality telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote Australia,” ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin said.
“2017 must be the year of delivering real improvements to digital connectivity in the bush.”
The Coalition has developed five outcomes to work towards, including:
- A universal service obligation that is technology neutral and provides access to both voice and data;
- Customer service guarantees and reliability measures to underpin the provision of voice and data services and deliver more accountability from providers and nbn;
- Long term public funding for open access mobile network expansion in rural and regional Australia;
- Fair and equitable access to Sky Muster satellite services for those with a genuine need for the service, and access which reflects the residential, educational and business needs of rural and regional Australia; and
- Fully resourced capacity building programs that build digital ability, and provide learning and effective problem solving support for regional, rural and remote businesses and consumers.
NFF CEO Tony Mahar said it was critical the data drought was rectified.
“Our members include some of the most innovative businesses and individuals in Australia. Yet we remain locked out of future economic growth and prosperity through the digital divide which is undermining Australia’s productivity,” he said.
“Without leadership and change, Australia risks growing and entrenching the digital divide between urban and rural telecommunications users. We risk undermining the opportunities presented by digital innovation to the farming community and rural Australia as a whole.”
Country Women’s Association of NSW president Annette Turner said beyond growing productivity, ending the data drought was immensely valuable for rural, regional and remote communities.
“Getting better digital connectivity in the bush can have such a positive impact on people’s lives and also assist in overcoming the tyrannies of distance. With good connectivity, educational outcomes are improved, health services can be streamlined and business can flourish.”
For more information, visit www.farmers.org.au/datadrought