Queensland government says rural telecommunications third-rate

The Queensland government yesterday weighed into the Telstra privatisation debate labelling the state's rural telecommunications services as third-rate.

Launching Queensland's Telecommunications Strategic Framework 2005-2008, the Minister for Public Works Robert Schwarten said the government's planned sale of Telstra "showed it did not care about telecommunications services in Queensland" given poor mobile phone coverage in the bush.

"People in rural and regional Queensland should not have to put up with second- and third-rate services," Schwarten said.

"Rural communities in particular are still waiting to see real benefits from the first sale of Telstra.

"Meanwhile, regional communities have received less than 2 percent of the revenue from the initial Telstra sale."

Schwarten said the strategic framework aims to promote the development of telecommunications infrastructure, increasing bandwidth services and encouraging competition in the market.

He said the framework will enhance competition and improve telecommunications outcomes for the government, business and community.

He said good services required a coordinated effort from all tiers of government, the private sector and broader community.

"The state won't be able to achieve its economic and growth potential without decent telecommunication services, which is why the Queensland Telecommunications Strategic Framework is so important," Schwarten said.

"Once again, the Queensland government has to act because the Liberals are skirting their responsibility for decent ICT (information and communication technology) services in Queensland."

Legislation on the sale of Telstra is expected to be introduced to parliament in September, although Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce has yet to decide whether to carry out his threat to block the Telstra sale by voting against the government's plan.

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