For people in the city, it’s come to be expected that when you pick up your smart phone you will connect to the internet and make phone calls with the touch of a button. For those in the bush, it’s often a very different story. Patchy phone coverage and unreliable internet can be frustrating and detrimental to rural businesses and livelihoods. This is why it is vitally important Cotton Australia continues to advocate for improved telecommunications connectivity in our cotton valleys.
Australia’s cotton growers are among the most innovative farmers in the world, using new technology – which often requires connection to the internet to function optimally – to hone their operations and be as efficient and sustainable as possible. However, they are the farmers least satisfied with connectivity options, with growers living in one of the many mobile blackspots facing an uphill battle to fully engage with farming, run their office effectively, and tap into educational resources in the digital age, not through any fault of their own.
Cotton Australia advocates for improved telecommunications connectivity in our cotton valleys as a priority, engaging directly with state and federal governments, telecommunications providers, and in collaboration with like-minded groups. Similarly, we’re active members of the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition, which is a strong, united voice on telecommunications issues being experienced by the bush.
Our recent advocacy work has centred on addressing mobile blackspots in cotton valleys with government MPs and Telstra during the consultation period for the latest round of Mobile Blackspot Program funding. We’re optimistic the government will listen to our concerns and direct funding to address these blackspots.
The report from the federal government’s independent Regional Telecommunications Review, to which Cotton Australia provided a submission, provided a number of recommendations, including improving digital literacy, improving broadband and mobile services in areas of high economic, social and public safety significance, and boosting data limits for regional customers. We support these findings and implore the government to implement the recommendations in full.
Our regional communities deserve the same access to reliable telecommunications services as those in our cities. Digitally-enabled agriculture is only going to increase, and strong connectivity will be the key to us reaching our full potential. This is why it is imperative the telecommunications issues affecting our communities are solved.