The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Patrick Conolly has asked Telstra to engage with Council and the community on vital telecommunications that are currently not being provided in Bilpin.
“We are asking Telstra to meet with our community members and Council to discuss how the telecommunications network can be made more effective and resilient,” Mayor Conolly (pictured) said.
“Whilst we are also seeking Telstra’s assistance and commitment towards maintaining and enhancing the current telecommunications network, a community meeting about the issue of failing telecommunications during emergencies, and regularly poor, unreliable service any other day, is imperative for our community,” he said.
“The devastating Black Summer bushfires of 2019/2020 severely impacted our community.
“During these bushfires, as well as many times previously, the failure of power, loss of overhead cabling and poor coverage made management of the unfolding disaster unnecessarily complex. It put the lives of emergency services staff and volunteers, and our community members, at risk.”
He said Council had already expressed its desire to meet with Telstra representatives to outline the issues firsthand with a view to working collaboratively on solutions with Telstra as well as energy providers and communication agencies. Residents have also called for a community meeting to be held in Bilpin.
“It is extremely disappointing to have a bureaucratic response simply indicating that representatives were ‘not available’, when Council even sought alternative and mutually compatible dates,” Mayor Conolly said.
“As the Mayor of Hawkesbury, I am seeking the direct assistance of Telstra’s Chief Executive Officer Andrew Penn to arrange relevant Telstra staff to meet with Council and the community to discuss matters of life and death in this vulnerable community that is still in recovery.
“I have personally written to Mr Penn seeking Telstra’s participation and active involvement. I have also sent him a copy of Council’s submission to the Mobile Black Spot Program in relation to Council’s submission for the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
“I look forward to a helpful response with some proposed dates in the very near future for when Telstra will commit to attending a Bilpin telecommunications meeting.”
He said Bilpin residents had been waiting a long time for a community meeting to happen.
“We’ve had a state of grace with the rain this bushfire season but we all need to step up to this issue. It’s too late when someone has lost their life because they couldn’t call for help or be informed they were in danger.”
The Mayor has also extended an offer to meet with the Telstra CEO at any time he is available to arrange a mutual date for a community meeting.