Living in regional areas means having to use every thing available to stay in-contact with families, travel safely in areas during daily work life, maintain and do business, so it requires properties and families to have a land line, mobile phones, satellite internet and satellite TV services that are affordable and relevant. It also makes sense to provide these areas with great services due to the high risk of fire, isolation, horrific road tolls, farm accidents, distances needed to travel to get to anywhere and educational opportunities that city children don’t have to give a thought to. These are a few of the daily activities that regional and rural people need to combat in order to be educated, informed and involved in their local communities and lives, even medical services are now looking to linking up with video conferencing to diagnose and treat people in these areas as Doctors stay away in droves.
Yet in Australia, Governments historically and modern-day concentrate all finances and upgrading of services i.e. roads, high-speed internet to the cities, to get more votes. Their tunnel vision doesn’t expand greater than for self-serving and vote grabbing. Despite the fact that all politicians admit and acknowledge it’s an issue, one will come up with an idea i.e. NBN Co the next incoming Government will veto it, change it and then make it so redundant it fails to provide anything for regional and rural areas, it becomes obsolete or rather the service so over subscribed they cut everybody sighting a ‘Fair Use Policy” designed to discriminate against “‘only regional customers” as told to the local radio station by a CEO of a provider, when challenged.
When paying subscribers were notified by email of this announcement to cut GB to 20Gb for all, there was a written disclaimer of being sued for breach of confidential information should you share it ( they were trying to infer regional people would just accept this as delivery of more poor services to our areas without a fuss). In the city, emails seen to fly out of sent boxes with ease, regionally you sometimes have to walk away and or disect the email and send in consequential lots, 1 email in the city and 4 from regional areas, depending upon content (thankfully there are now drop boxes and clouds).
I have written to all Communications Ministers, Sitting and Shadow, State and Federal to receive, at best, a substandard response from them all, when sending some of these onto radio producers I have had to send them with a warning “this will be 5 minutes of your life you will never get back if you read this” some Ministers Shadow and Sitting, actually think it is ok to make this about THEM, not only as individuals but as a party, the absolute vanity and non caring of these people sitting in $100K+ salaries telling us that if it weren’t for them we would have nothing was awkward at best. The radio producers have had to agree and then not able to put it to air so as not to embarrass themselves with such stupidity. Others have referred me off to the Dept of Communications – beautifully side stepping the issue.
Our local ABC radio has been great with the cause as it affects all of regional and rural areas, having diminished services puts safety at risk of all road users and travellers, tourism, business, medical services and educational growth of these areas. I was lucky enough to be able to get onto the regional telecommunications review webinars to hear how these decreases have affected many people in different forms from all over Australia.
My other issue is that though the provider has reduced the satellite internet services by 2/3rd they have not reduced the price. All our communications services are extremely expensive and fairly useless, mobiles do not ring or can’t be answered in houses, we get great reception 30kms away so we are reliant on a land line which during our fire was damaged and though, in an active fire zone was told we “were not important enough to have it fixed” it took Telstra 6 weeks to reconnect us. Recently it was out for 9 days with no explanation as to why they wouldn’t come and fix it, when they did it took less than 30 minutes.
Now with the reduction in Satellite internet services we also have had the announcement that Mobile black spot funding has been settled at 11 towers in SA, due to lack of input and finances from our State Government. In the South East of South Australia there was none allocated despite areas being identified where there is no network, no safety for people in these areas and no level of comfort they are being taken seriously. Our State Government has had over 12 years to improve our state and regional areas, with the exception of Port Pirie, they haven’t nor do I feel comfort that the opposition party will be any better, there is no money. Governments spend and spend tax payers money with no real planning for future growth and needs.
I have heard of families struggling with remote education, saying that their 2 teenage children had used the quota up in two weeks with school work and then they were cut off till the next billing round, does this then make it necessary to have local and regional libraries open after hours? Will the Government be proactive and allow this? pay the wages and encourage students to go there? the problem is lack of foresight by Government and lack of finances to pay wages due to poor fiscal management. Distance being an issue for families in that some of these libraries are attached to schools and are over 100+kms away from properties. I think not, its put up with it until we fix it sometime in 2016.
For anyone wanting to let the Department know of their issues and problems with reduced services please go to the Regional Telecommunications Review, issue papers and do a submission you have till 15th July 2015 to get your voice for your area read. It may not help solve the problem in the short term but will give them different aspects to work on. To make it easier click the link and it will take you straight there. I am also happy to share with you the correspondence I have received from the Ministers and Shadow Ministers if you would like to email me requesting it.
Some of these people and Departments make as much sense as standing in a paddock full of cattle, the language barrier is huge and the lack of concentration and understanding by the parties is a great divide.
I’m giving our Governments and Telecommunications a big #FAIL