The Minister for Regional Communications, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, today announced the tabling in Parliament of the report of the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee – A step change in demand.
An independent statutory review into the adequacy of telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia is conducted every three years. It is important in setting the future priorities and investment in regional telecommunications.
The 2021 review committee lead by Chair, the Hon Luke Hartsuyker, has worked tirelessly to deliver a comprehensive ‘report card’ on regional telecommunications. The Report highlights the ever-increasing demand for connectivity in the regions, and the need for telecommunications to be accessible, reliable and of good quality.
Minister McKenzie said the 2021 Hartsuyker Review sets out 16 key findings in relation to Australian, state, territory and local government investment in digital connectivity, the reliability and resilience of regional services, the ongoing ‘step change’ in data usage, and consumer literacy and digital inclusion.
“Factors such as COVID-19, a growing digital economy and the ongoing threat of natural disasters have underlined the importance of access to high quality telecommunication services,” Minister McKenzie said.
“The findings and recommendations are based on extensive community engagement, including a record number of submissions and strong community feedback in the 24 virtual consultations. This feedback is invaluable in developing evidence-based solutions for those living, working and travelling in our regions.
“Access to a good quality, reliable, modern telecommunications is a key issue. Robust digital connectivity is vital, keeping connected to families, ensuring local businesses can access and adequately service local and international markets, enabling remote working, keeping people safe – everyday – and in disasters – and providing access to online education and telehealth and government services.
“The Liberal and Nationals Government has already implemented many impactful initiatives following previous Regional Telecommunications Reviews.
“These include the Mobile Black Spot Program which to date has generated a total investment of more than $875 million to deliver more than 1,270 new mobile base stations across Australia.
“The $380 million Regional Connectivity Program and the $171 million Regional Tech Hub as well as investments in baseline services like the National Broadband Network and the Universal Service Guarantee are further evidence of previous review outcomes.