MOBILE BLACK SPOT PROGRAM

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (17:20): Thank you and I thank the chamber for the opportunity to make a few comments in this debate. It is the case that we're having this conversation in the context of the most recent round, round 4, of the Mobile Black Spot Program having closed just last week. I have taken the opportunity to put submissions in to that website and also to write directly to the minister about the issues in my electorate, and I appreciate the opportunity to do that.

It is the case, in particular in my area, that there are a number of transport routes. Several members have talked about the safety issue and having more remote areas or major transport corridors able to have mobile access. In putting that submission together, I surveyed my electorate and hundreds of people responded, and I want to acknowledge the time they took to give me the feedback. Not all of my electorate is eligible, but there was excellent feedback for the areas that I was able to put forward. I particularly want to report to the Chamber, on behalf of all of those constituents, the transport corridors that need focus—in particular, the South Coast rail line. There are a lot of people who commute from my region into Sydney. One of the things that makes a long and tiring commuting life bearable is to be able to knock off some of the work related or even personal things—banking and those sorts of things—that you might need to do on the train while you're travelling home so that, once you get home, you can actually spend some quality time with your family. Between Thirroul and Helensburgh on the South Coast line, the mobile service just completely drops out, and people on that commute are without mobile phone coverage for a very extended period of time.

The government did contribute towards a new base station at Coalcliff, which would help alleviate that problem on that line, in round 1 of this particular program. That was in 2015. The other week I joined my two state colleagues, Ryan Park and Paul Scully, to call on the New South Wales government to get on with finding a solution on where to base that base station. We're now up to round 4 and they still haven't resolved the positioning of a base station from round 1 that's very important to a major commuter corridor. We've written to the state minister asking him to meet with Telstra urgently and get a resolution to that particular one.

There's also the Picton Road. It's a major road connecting my region, particularly running up to Sydney or down to Canberra. It's very heavily used. With the member for Keira, Ryan Park, I have raised that on behalf of a constituent who spoke to us, Mrs Hayette Hanna. She lost her sister on that road. At the time that fatal accident occurred, they were unable to get mobile phone coverage. In an earlier round, there was a base station funded on that road, which I'm hoping will be resolved soon. But there are still a number of other black spots, so I've submitted for those. The Appin Road is a similar experience, heading into south-western Sydney from my region, so we've included that.

I want to finish up by really speaking out in this parliament on behalf of some constituents at Darkes Forest. Darkes Forest is a fairly small community at the very north of my electorate in very heavily-wooded, national-park-type area.

The people of Darkes Forest have been struggling not only with mobile phone coverage; when we lost government, they went off a fibre based broadband solution. They're on satellite, and that's been an extremely frustrating for process for them. Mr Ian Coote, who runs a small business in that area, wrote to me the other week, and we're following up on his behalf. We've submitted Darkes Forest as a black spot under this particular round of the program, and we'll work to try to get a better resolution of the broadband services into those areas as well.

I put on the public record for the minister and the government that I'm very, very keen to see these issues resolved in the current round of the black spot program. Thank you Deputy Speaker.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr McVeigh): There being no further speakers, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Watch Sharon’s speech here.