Mr COULTON (Parkes–The Nationals Chief Whip) (09:37): I thank the member for Kingston for the segue into my statement, which is about the telecommunications survey that I have just undertaken in the Parkes electorate. In May I sent out a survey to every resident of the Parkes electorate asking them questions about the telecommunication services that they received and the shortcomings that they were experiencing. It should be noted that the electorate of Parkes makes up 36 per cent of the state of New South Wales and telecommunications in such a large area is vitally important to the people who live there.
It is no surprise that 69 per cent of the respondents to my survey believe that mobile coverage should be a priority for government spending. The lack of mobile coverage in my electorate is profound. Indeed, several years ago I had the minister, Senator Conroy, attend several meetings in my electorate. While I was appreciative of the senator’s visit it did not translate to any improvements. Large patches of my electorate have no mobile coverage at all. They will not be part of the NBN. They will receive a satellite service but that will not carry voice so, unfortunately, large parts of western New South Wales will miss out.
Seventy per cent of survey respondents are against the NBN. They believe that they need high-speed internet service but believe that the NBN is not going to deliver that to them-they are very sceptical about that being the way to go. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents also believe that public phone boxes should be maintained. While many of the members in this place might think that public phone boxes are quaint, for a large number of the people that I represent it might be the only method of communication that they have.
I have submitted the results of my survey to the shadow regional telecommunications minister, Mr Hartsuyker, the member for Cowper. He assures me that the information that has come through this survey will be used to mould the coalition’s telecommunications policy-a policy that will be relevant to the people of regional Australia, that will deliver services to the people of regional Australia and that will bring the people of regional Australia back into the 21st century and out of the wilderness of the last five years.