Thursday 16 June 2005


[2.44 p.m.]
Mr FINCH (Question) - Mr President, my question is for the Leader. Firstly, what pressure is the Government applying to the Federal Government and Telstra to improve mobile phone communications in Tasmania? Secondly, is the Government aware that mobile phone coverage in parts of the Tamar Valley and within only 10 kilometres of Launceston in some areas is nonexistent?

Mr AIRD - I thank the honourable member for his question. Rather than take a swipe at the proposed future privatisation of Telstra, I will answer -

Ms Thorp - Why not? Go for it.

Mr AIRD - I will answer with a straight bat. In answer to the honourable member, Mr President, Telstra decisions on mobile phone infrastructure are commercially based and are ultimately the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government at the present time. However, through contract management TMD, the telecommunications management arm of the Tasmanian Government, includes coverage, service performance standards and network quality in its negotiations with Telstra.

Current contract negotiations have resulted in Telstra committing to infrastructure upgrades at 10 sites in the second half of this calendar year, including the Cataract Gorge in Launceston. Negotiations also include potential upgrades to another 30 sites over the next 12 months, seven of which are in the Launceston area. While these negotiations focus on the needs of government, they deliver flow-on benefits to the wider community.

There are problems with mobile coverage in various parts of the State. These issues are raised with Telstra in government contract negotiations. However, telecommunications is ultimately a Commonwealth government responsibility.

Thursday 16 June 2005