John Bowler

John Bowler

Former Minister for Local Government; Employment Protection; Racing and Gaming; Goldfields-Esperance and Great Southern

    Sale of Telstra will not ensure services

    17/08/2005 12:00 AM

    The Western Australian Government is greatly concerned about the future standards of telecommunications in WA, especially in regional areas.

    Regional Development Minister John Bowler said there were gaps in the service across the State and not enough had been done to secure the future provisions.

    “WA’s conservative politicians have betrayed their own State by failing to argue strongly for proper telecommunication resources for regional areas,” Mr Bowler said.

    “It is a pity our State and Federal members have failed to stand up for WA by attacking the planned privatisation of Telstra, unlike their Queensland National counterparts.

    “John Howard promised of a bucket of Telstra money to appease Queensland, but that leaves WA in the cold.”

    The Minister said Australians had been continually told by the Federal Government that the full sale of Telstra would not be considered until services in the bush were up to standard.

    “This is definitely not the case,” he said.

    Wheatbelt towns in WA are an example of the existing Telstra shortfall.

    Mr Bowler is heading for Narembeen today and it is one of group of shires that had to form a joint venture to ensure the provision of mobile telephone coverage in the region.

    The Shire of Narembeen contributed $130,000 of ratepayers’ money to get their CDMA service, then an extra $10,000 on a booster to extend coverage. Despite this, there are still significant portions of the north-east of the shire that are without mobile coverage and the shire was told that if it wanted to extend coverage, it would be entirely at its own cost.

    Mr Bowler said there had been some improvement to services in the bush during the last year or so, but only as part of John Howard’s attempts to butter up regional and outback service recipients.

    “Once Telstra is sold these services will slip further behind,” he said.

    “It is only political pressure to which Telstra and the Federal Government is responding and that response will end the day Telstra is sold.

    “My worry with the Howard Government is that any promises they make before the sale will become non-core promises and the regional and bush areas will be left to rot as far as telecommunications are concerned.

    “The Federal Government proposal is to buy off the Queensland National Party and my concern is that if Telstra is sold, WA won’t see its fair share.

    “It is a pity the WA Liberal Party and its Senators did not represent their State as the Queensland Nationals did.”

    Minister's office: 9213 6500