Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said that she would be calling for a discussion with Ministers on improving communication systems during natural disasters and extreme weather events.
“It’s important in the lead up and direct aftermath of these events that every person is able to access some form of communication,” Ms Landry said.
“It is unrealistic to suggest that all communication systems can or will work all of the time during these events. We should be aiming to safeguard at least one method of communication for the safety of all – be that fixed landline, internet or mobile service.
“There are a number of ways that this can be cost-effectively achieved and this is what I will be speaking to Ministers about in Canberra,” she said.
Ms Landry has received a number of calls and messages from concerned residents and subsequently arranged briefings with communication operators including NBN.
“It isn’t complicated but the solutions aren’t uniform either – what will work in one area may not be the answer for another. We need to look at this holistically and get the issue on the agenda before the next major weather event.
“Technology has changed and we rely more and more on electricity to run communication systems.
“It is an unfortunate reality that power either goes down or needs to be cut during extreme weather events. This is not something that, for safety reasons, can be avoided.
“The NBN will only work when power is available and we can’t change that fact,” she said.
Ms Landry said that there are a number of solutions available that could include power back-up grants, a review of mobile tower priorities or assistance where a second landline was needed.
For people in rural areas who have NBN wireless or satellite, a copper landline is still an option. NBN have confirmed that the copper lines will not be removed for this type of connection. However communication retailers do charge additional service costs to run both an NBN and copper landline.
For people in regional areas who have FTN or FTP connections, the landline option is not available. Where mobile coverage is available this isn’t an issue. However for people with this setup, who also happen to be in a mobile black spot, reliable power backup is required when electricity is down.
“There are two options here – we can prioritise mobile towers for these areas, or we can provide either power packs or generators.
“This isn’t an argument about what sort of technology is the best – it’s about making sure that all regional Australians can stay connected when it is needed most,” Ms Landry said.