Ex-Nats MP leads bush communication review

·1-min read

The Morrison government has hand-picked former Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker to lead a review of telecommunications in regional Australia.

Regional Communications Minister Mark Coulton will on Wednesday unveil the five-member committee chaired by Mr Hartsuyker.

The group has been tasked with reviewing telecommunications in regional, rural and remote Australia including government policy.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people's access in regional communities, service reliability and economic opportunities for emerging technology will be considered.

The five-member group is also tasked with examining expansions of digital connectivity in the bush.

Queensland grazier and co-founder of a Facebook group to address regional communications problems Kristy Sparrow has been appointed to the committee.

Citrus and pork producer Sue Middleton, who was also picked to be on the government's National Water Grid Authority board, also represents agriculture.

Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering president Hugh Bradlow - Telstra's former chief scientist - joins the committee along with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chief advisor Michael Cosgrave.

Mr Hartsuyker retired from politics at the last election after holding the NSW north coast electorate of Cowper for 18 years.

He served as shadow minister for regional communications during the coalition's last stint in opposition from 2010 to 2013.

The 2018 regional telecommunications review was chaired by former Liberal senator Sean Edwards.

Mr Coulton said the committee had experience in telecommunications, agriculture, regional business, competition and consumer regulation, and community affairs.

"The members have a broad-ranging knowledge of the telecommunications sector and of regional Australia," he said.

"They appreciate the needs of regional communities, and they will undertake a thorough examination of regional telecommunication issues that will include an extensive public consultation process."

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