Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Mobile Network Extension Devices Pilot Program

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (14:35): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister inform the chamber about the state government's recent announcement to expand the very well-named Mobile Network Extension Devices Pilot Program—a catchy title?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:35): I thank the honourable member for his question and look forward to receiving his suggestions on a more catchy title for this particular device. I am very pleased that, during country cabinet last week, I was able to announce that the state government, in partnership with Telstra, is expanding the existing Mobile Network Extension Devices Pilot Program to residents on Yorke Peninsula. It is so important that there is access to reliable mobile coverage and connectivity in regional parts of our state. Unlike much of metropolitan Adelaide, of course, it is something that can't simply be taken for granted in regional areas, as often we do not enjoy reliable mobile coverage to the same standard.

The benefit of expanding this program that was previously only open to residents in the Adelaide Hills and Mount Barker council areas is that it can provide a localised solution for people who face difficulties with connectivity. Residents in the Yorke Peninsula, Barunga West and Copper Coast councils who experience connectivity issues in their homes or businesses are encouraged to get in contact with Telstra to understand what solution might be best for them and their particular situation.

The program subsidises the installation cost of the mobile repeater devices in homes or businesses after residents within the council areas I have just mentioned have purchased a Telstra GO repeater, either outright or on a monthly plan. Costs for the devices range from around $800 for a standard unit. Again, Telstra can advise on the right solution and product, depending on what is needed.

Of course, there is more that needs to be done in addressing mobile blackspots, and I am heartened to see that the Albanese Labor government is taking its role in addressing these issues very seriously, with a $656 million plan over five years that includes a $400 million boost to mobile coverage on regional roads, at regional communities and for public safety communication facilities, as well as $200 million for two additional rounds of the Regional Connectivity Program that will invest in place-based connectivity infrastructure.

The Malinauskas government will continue to work closely with our federal counterparts to ensure that South Australia gets its fair share of funding and that solutions are found that address the needs of our regional communities. The state government and Telstra's Mobile Network Extension Devices Pilot Program play an important role in, as I said previously, offering a localised solution that is likely to assist a number of residents in areas that don't have reliable connectivity.

I thank Telstra and their regional general manager in South Australia, Michael Patterson, for their role in this important program. I also want to acknowledge the member for Narungga, Fraser Ellis, in the other place, for his advocacy on behalf of his electorate in improving mobile connectivity for Yorke Peninsula.