Bush telecommunications needs help with more reforms

The Australian, 3 September 2015.

Vodafone Australia chief Inaki Berroeta.

Vodafone Australia chief Inaki Berroeta.

Recently I drove to Armidale in country NSW to open a new ­Vodafone retail store with the local federal MP and Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce. During the drive I had cause to reflect on the potential for improved mobile telecommunications in regional Australia.

Vodafone will soon be building more than 18 mobile base stations in the region around Armidale, dramatically improving our ­mobile coverage by an extra 2000sq km. This will deliver better mobile coverage and more employment opportunities in the community while giving more choice and competition to local consumers and businesses.

This would not have been possible without the government’s mobile black spot program and the support of the NSW government, which fund not only improvements in mobile coverage but also competition in regional and remote areas where it is severely lacking. The combination of subsidised construction of mobile stations with a requirement on industry to work together to share infrastructure is a major step forward for which both governments deserve significant credit.

Our geography and low population density means there are major challenges in ensuring regional and remote Australians can benefit from a choice of fixed and mobile telco providers.

Many Australian taxpayers would be surprised to learn that over the past decade Telstra has received more than one billion of their dollars to maintain and ­extend its network. There would be a huge outcry if a major supermarket chain received such substantial amounts of taxpayer funds to maintain its market dominance, but such a huge handout to the incumbent telco has gone largely unquestioned.

Further, Telstra charges monopoly prices for other operators to access its fixed transmission links, many of which were built when Telstra was a government-owned monopoly. To build mobile base stations, carriers need to connect to these fixed transmission links to take the voice and data traffic to the rest of the world. But there are some shoots of green; the policy environment is changing. The NBN rollout and the mobile black spot program are solutions

Australia will not achieve its potential, or lift its long-term economic and social wellbeing to its highest level without access to modern telecommunications services at affordable prices.

These are exciting opportunities and we look forward to ­continuing to work with government, industry and consumers to maximise the benefits of more competition and choice in telecommunications for regional and remote Australia.

Inaki Berroeta is the chief executive of Vodafone Australia.

View the full article here.

Fiona Cotter of Provincial Matters to present on wind energy facilities at the Australian Regional Development Conference

Fiona Cotter, Director of Provincial Matters, will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at the Commercial Club Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Fiona Cotter

Fiona Cotter

Speaker Bio:   Fiona Cotter has been involved in the permitting of two solar test facilities and five large scale solar facilities in Victoria and number in remote Queensland. She was also the planning advisor for the recently approved wind energy facility – Bulgana wind farm in the state’s west.  Having recently traveled to Spain she has researched overseas facilities and experiences to provide an insight in to the possible future for renewables in Victoria.

Presentation Title:   All wind and hot air?

Presentation Overview: The debate surrounding wind energy facilities can make for as robust a dinner conversation as religion and politics. Some of us are mesmerised by the turbines and value the clean energy contribution.  Others see them as an unnecessary blight on the landscape irrespective of the sustainability features.  These community attitudes have influenced the last two state elections in Victoria as well as Federal politics.

About Provincial Matters

Through our town planning services, Provincial Matters manages large and small scale projects for the private sector and governments. Our expertise includes developing planning policies and strategies, advising on planning issues such as fire and flood, trees and environment, and heritage and neighbourhood character, and team working to achieve planning approvals for major projects in regional areas.

For more information on the Australian Regional Development Conference please click here to be redirected to the event website.

Matt Coetzee from Aurecon to present on developing successful regional agribusiness

Matt Coetzee, Urbanisation Expertise Leader at Aurecon will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference 26– 27 August 2015 at the Commercial Club Albury.

Matt Coetzee

Matt Coetzee

Speaker Bio:  Matt is an experienced strategic planner with over 25 years of experience in Australia and around the world. Matt brings a unique understanding of how to leverage the connections between economics, infrastructure, environmental and social condition, and then reflect this in a comprehensive and enduring solution. These concepts draw heavily on a systems approach, and have been developed and tested in environments as diverse as Christchurch, Manila, Soweto and Western Sydney.

Matt has applied his expertise to projects as wide ranging as mixed urban developments, large transport infrastructure, and rural developments. Matt has also acted as an expert witness in the NSW Land and Environment Court on environmental and planning matters.

Abstract Title:  The Three Imperatives for Successful Regional Agribusiness Development in the Next Decade

Abstract Overview:     The ability of the resources sector to support the Australian economy and, more importantly, the Australian regional economy, is undoubtedly now over. In recognising this, a number of recent investigations have attempted to identify what will indeed drive our future National prosperity. Agribusiness consistently comes up as the most attractive of these.

About the Australian Regional Development Conference:

The conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation. The program will include an extensive range of topics with Keynote Presenters, Concurrent Sessions, Case Studies, Workshops and Poster Presentations.

Themed “Redefining the Future of Regional Australia”, the Conference program will explore the issues and opportunities facing Regional Australia today and into the future.

Sub themes for concurrent sessions:

  • Sustainability / Renewables
  • Population Movements
  • Community Development
  • Government Policy
  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural Tourism / Regional Tourism Development
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Transport and Logistics
  • NBN / Broadband Communication
  • Banking / Finance

For more information on the Conference please click here to be redirected to the event website.