SHADOW Minister for Communications and Broadband Malcolm Turnbull met with representatives from various commerce and industry groups from major regional centres around the South West via teleconference last week.
The conference call provided participants with an opportunity to question Mr Turnbull about the Coalition's broadband and communications policy and inform him of the issues that were relevant to each regional location.
Contributions were made by delegates from the Great Southern, Central Wheatbelt and Kalgoorlie-Esperance regions, as well as Liberal Senators Chris Back and Dean Smith.
In fact, Mr Smith, who is based in Perth, participated in discussions from Canberra while Mr Turnbull was hosted in Perth by Liberal candidate for O'Connor Rick Wilson at Mr Smith's office.
Conversation centred on the frustrations experienced throughout the region which had resulted from a lack of consistent coverage for internet and mobile phone services.
Participants discussed the implications of insufficient service on businesses and regional towns including the effects on investment.
Mr Turnbull used the conference to attack the Federal Government's NBN network and outlined aspects of the Coalition's policy.
He said improving rural telecommunications should be the highest priority of any government.
"The fact is that the private sector is more than capable of dealing with the telecommunications network in the cities where most Australians live," Mr Turnbull said.
"But there has always got to be some degree of government support whether a direct or a cross-subsidy, to ensure all Australians regardless of where they live, have access to telecommunications services."
Mr Turnbull said any works to conquer mobile black spots had been undertaken by the State Government in recent years rather than the Federal Government.
"I am very aware of the most common complaint of black spots for mobile phones and there is clearly a need for additional support," he said.
WA Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Kitty Prodonovich said there needed to be greater consistency of service and information surrounding the roll-out of new services.
"What we are hearing from all our members from throughout the State is about black spots and really the inconsistency of service and information is an issue," she said.