Country voice needed on phone woes

NSW Farmers has put out the call for people in rural and regional areas to have their say on worsening phone and internet services.

A recent survey of NSW Farmers members found roughly two thirds of respondents experienced a slight to significant decline in mobile network coverage and internet connectivity. Unsurprisingly, more than 78 per cent were unsatisfied with their mobile phone coverage, with on-farm connectivity rated particularly bad.

NSW Farmers Rural Affairs Committee Chair Garry Grant said the organisation was actively seeking case studies they could present to the federal government’s Regional Telecommunications Independent Review, and he hoped the weight of evidence would be too big to ignore.

“We rely on farmers to produce the food we eat, but every day they’re struggling with the basics of modern life,” Mr Grant said.

“NSW Farmers needs every member who’s having a problem to have their say so we can go to the government and tell them exactly where the problems are so they can be fixed.

“How on earth are we supposed to keep up with the rest of the world when on the farm you’d nearly be better off with two tin cans and a length of string?”

Many of the modern tools of business – such as two-factor authentication for banking – rely on a mobile phone service, but some respondents said even the process of receiving a text-message code was patchy.

Mr Grant said it was beyond time the government took the needs of country people seriously.

“We may not have all the people, but we grow all the food, and we’re just as important as any other group in society,” Mr Grant said.

“You need a decent phone and internet connection these days, things like working from home or home schooling were a challenge for people in Balmain, let alone Brewarrina.

“We know we live outside the city and our members have bought the boosters and aerials they need – now it’s time for the telcos and government to step up and do their part to keep Australia’s farms working.”

NSW Farmers members who want to lend their voice to the organisation’s submission to the inquiry can fill out an online form or call our Rural Affairs policy team on 1300 794 000. You can also make a submission directly through the inquiry website (www.rtirc.gov.au). People who don’t have reliable access to internet or phone services can make a submission to the inquiry by sending their mail to the address below:

2021 Regional Telecommunications Review Secretariat

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

GPO Box 594

CANBERRA ACT 2601

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