The Federal Government is being urged to force telecommunication companies to guarantee back-up mobile phone coverage in high-risk bushfire zones.
Crossbench MP Rebekha Sharkie introduced a private bill to Federal Parliament last week that would require carriers to provide 24-hour standby power to allow mobile phone towers to operate in times of emergency.
‘‘I do not want my community or others in high-risk bushfire areas to once again face the risk of zero communication with the outside world because the NBN does not work in a blackout, and there is no legislative requirement on the telecommunication companies to ensure that there is enough stand-by power available for mobile phone towers,’’ Ms Sharkie told the lower house.
Ms Sharkie, who represents the South Australian seat of Mayo, said her electorate was the oldest in the state and with residents living in isolated and hilly communities a lack of communication left residents vulnerable during a major storm that swept through the region last December.
Meanwhile, Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville has told State Parliament about a recent community forum where the issue of the NBN rollout was hotly debated.
‘‘I can tell you that the message from people was: ‘Please do not roll it out to our house because things get worse when you get the NBN, not better’,’’ she said.
‘‘No improvement — in fact you go backwards in regional Victoria if you get the NBN. You are better off sticking with the system you have got now.’’
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