A panel including a beef farmer, a regional CEO, a business advisor and telecommunications consultant will review the adequacy of telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia.
The committee appointed for 2015 Regional Telecommunications Review will be chaired by Deena Shiff, a former Telstra executive who also chairs a start-up building mobile phone apps designed for 2G low-bandwidth networks.
Shiff will be joined by Su McCluskey, the CEO of the regional policy think tank Regional Australia Institute, Georgie Somerset, a beef producer and company director from southern Queensland who also advises both national and state governments on farming and rural planning, and Robin Eckermann, a long-time telecommunications consultant with expertise in broadband and the environment.
Eckermann was previously a member of the last government’s Regional Telecommunications Independent Review, whose findings were tabled in 2012 but have since been scrubbed from government websites. All that remains is the government’s response.
Legislation requires a review of regional telecommunications be conducted every three years, and consider whether people in rural, regional and remote areas have equitable access to telecommunications services that are of importance to people in those areas and are currently available in urban areas.
In a statement, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said:
“The government recognises that inadequate telecommunications services is a significant issue for many Australians, particularly in regional, rural and remote parts of the country.
“The committee has been selected on the basis of significant experience in the telecommunications and IT industry, as well as extensive knowledge of regional Australia.”
As part of the 2015 review, the committee will also consider the infrastructure and services provided by the rollout of the National Broadband Network and the latest Mobile Black Spot program. It will also canvass community views on future consumer safeguards following the NBN rollout.
The committee will call for public submissions and report their findings by August 23, 2015.