GrainGrowers urges grain farmers who have poor mobile voice or internet coverage on their farm to contact their local Councillor or Member of Parliament to ensure their telecommunications ‘black spots’ are recorded on the black spot database.
The Federal Government re-opened the database for new nominations last month, with a deadline of next Thursday 11 October.
GrainGrowers CEO David McKeon said that a GrainGrowers/National Farmers’ Federation survey had shown that 7 per cent of respondents had no mobile voice coverage on farm while a further 29 per cent had coverage on less than a quarter of their farm.
“In addition, 9 per cent of respondents had no mobile internet coverage on farm while a further 33 per cent had coverage on less than a quarter of their farm.
“GrainGrowers has identified and mapped the postcodes associated with the black spots and have contacted growers in these areas to urge them to act to have them included on the mobile black spot database.
“We have also written to Members of Parliament whose electorates were identified as having these black spots.
“However, the catch is that while we can raise awareness of general black spots that need to be added, there’s only one way for farmers to get their specific location onto the database – by contacting their local representatives on their council, state or territory governments, and/or federal parliament, and providing their geographic co-ordinates.
“We’ve made this process simple – growers can use the online tool ‘Report a mobile black spot to your MP’ tool on the AustralianFarmers website.
“The website automatically identifies the farmer’s MPs (state/territory and federal) based on the postcode they have entered and then generates an email directly to the representatives about the black spot problem.
“Farmers will still need to provide the latitude and longitude of the specific black spot area they want added to the database.”
Mr McKeon said, of course, the Catch 22 was that farmers needed to travel to an area with connectivity to be able to log their own farm’s lack of connectivity.
“Farmers have repeatedly told us that a lack of access to reliable and efficient telecommunications in regional areas, including mobile voice and internet connections, is a prohibitive barrier to their farm businesses’ profitability and must be urgently improved,” Mr McKeon said.
“GrainGrowers is a member of the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition and we welcomed Minister for Regional Services, Senator Bridget McKenzie’s call for nominations for Round Four of the $220 million Mobile Black Spot Program last month.
“We urge grain farmers with telecommunications problems in their area to act quickly to ensure the geographical location of black spots on their farms are logged with their local MP.”