Legislative Council: Tuesday, October 31, 2023


Limestone Coast

The Hon. T.T. NGO (14:49): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister tell the chamber about the government's announcement of a significant investment in regional connectivity in the Limestone Coast region?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:49): I thank the honourable member for his question. It was a great pleasure to be, along with my cabinet colleagues, in the Limestone Coast last week for the MacKillop country cabinet visit. As a resident of the Limestone Coast, I can certainly attest to the wonderful lifestyle that we enjoy in our part of the state. We are proud of our communities and the significant contributions that the region's industries make to the state's economy, from dairy and livestock to broadacre farming, forestry, fishing, tourism, the list goes on.

One observation that visitors and residents of the Limestone Coast often make is that there are so many mobile and data blackspots, which adversely impact on visitor experiences, business operations and service delivery. Our government has listened to those concerns, and last Thursday we announced a significant $5.5 million investment in Limestone Coast regional connectivity. This investment forms part of a Telstra project which, if successful in securing commonwealth government funding, will be the largest mobile co-investment project Telstra has ever put together in South Australia, and one of the largest nationwide.

The $27.7 million project includes the installation of 27 new mobile base stations in the Limestone Coast region, adding around 2,400 square kilometres of new 4G coverage, which is a 44 per cent increase in the land mass covered. The new towers will increase mobile coverage, wireless broadband and data sharing capabilities.

At a practical level, that means we will have more efficient communication and monitoring in the forestry, dairy, agricultural, winery and wool industries, as well as better connectivity for tourists and improved access to remote health services. It also means enhanced communications for vital emergency services, including additional 000 connectivity for users of other non-Telstra networks in emergency situations.

One of the most impressive aspects of this co-investment project has been how key stakeholders have come together, recognised the benefits of enhanced connectivity and committed their own funding to this project. In addition to the funding contributions from the South Australian government and Telstra, six of the seven councils in the Limestone Coast region have also committed project funding, as has the South Australian Forest Products Association.

This combination of industry, state and local government funding presents a compelling case to the commonwealth government's Regional Connectivity Program, round 3. I look forward to the outcome of Telstra's application to that program, and I commend the project and all of its co-investors for taking advantage of this opportunity to improve regional connectivity in the Limestone Coast.