Representatives from councils across Australia have supported a motion calling on the Federal Government to amend the Telecommunications Act 1997 to facilitate consideration of Sunshine Coast Council’s application for a submarine cable protection zone to be declared offshore from the Sunshine Coast.
Mayors, councillors and senior local government representatives have gathered in Canberra for the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly of Local Government 2017.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, who moved the motion at the conference, is representing Sunshine Coast Council and also attending the conference in his capacity as President of the Local Government Association of Queensland and ALGA board member.
"I am delighted my Australian local government colleagues have supported this motion and have acknowledged the national significance of this submarine cable protection zone, if Australia is to have greater security, redundancy and access to bandwidth on the eastern seaboard," Mayor Jamieson said.
“The importance of fast, reliable communications for cities and regions has been a common theme throughout this conference.
“There are only five international cable connections into Australia - four which come ashore along a short stretch of coastline in Sydney and one into Perth.”
Mayor Jamieson said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had himself identified this as a vulnerable single-point-of-failure for the eastern seaboard of Australia, with the existing cables located in close proximity to each other.
"At a national level, the Sunshine Coast will be playing its part in addressing a major national risk because, with the existing four cables in Sydney located so closely together, they could easily be damaged or disrupted at the same time,” Mayor Jamieson said.
"In addition, because the price, speed and bandwidth will be improved, all of south east Queensland - in fact the whole State - will be advantaged by an international connection from the Sunshine Coast.
"The installation of a new submarine cable offshore from the Sunshine Coast will also ensure Queensland will no longer rely solely on the Sydney land connections for its data needs.
"We have support for this game-changing initiative from the Queensland Government, the Queensland Opposition, the Local Government Association of Queensland, the Council of Mayors South East Queensland and now the Australian Local Government Association.
"I trust the strong support from local governments across the nation for this initiative will assist in encouraging a more positive response from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Federal Government, with whom our council looks forward to working to achieve a positive result."
Sunshine Coast Council put another three motions to the National General Assembly, all of which were carried.
Following this endorsement, ALGA will also now call on the Federal Government to:
· provide greater incentives under its National Innovation and Science Agenda to encourage young entrepreneurs to establish start-up businesses in regional areas of Australia outside of the capital cities;
· implement an urgent review of the roll out of the NBN Fibre to the Node services and propose a revised back up power supply solution to overcome the loss of communications that will be experienced during extended power outages; and
· provide funding and other support to councils to undertake a range of coastal community protection projects consistent with developed regional erosion management projects and future coastal hazard adaptation strategies.
Mayor Jamieson welcomed the ALGA members’ support for the Sunshine Coast Council’s four motions which would assist in council’s own efforts to grow the economy, protect the environment and ensure the safety of residents across Australia during times of natural disaster and extended power outages.
The annual conference brings together key policy makers, the media and the private and tertiary sectors to discuss the major issues and opportunities facing local government, including infrastructure to deal with congestion; quality of life standards; economic growth; and improving service delivery and efficiency through harnessing new technology.