Although farmers, Shire Presidents, CEO’s, business people, professionals, workers in the region, volunteer ambulance officers, mums and kids shared their frustrations at poor connectivity, high cost, black spots and ridiculously slow speeds the overall atmosphere of the day was one of hope and willingness to learn about new technologies, alternatives and opportunities. It was very pleasing to have State managers of Telstra and Optus willing to listen and engage from morning until evening as well as Colin De Grusso Mia Davies and Peter Rundell and their advisors - Rick Wilson also sent 2 advisors. People travelled from all over including Narrogin, Katanning, Geraldton, Dumbleyung, Lake Grace, Lake King, Hyden, Kulin, Wandering, York, Dadgebup, Perth and the outer Perth region
In her address to the audience prior to the Innovate Australia sector of the day, the Chair of Farming Champions, Mary Nenke, thanked the CEO Peter Kasprzak for accepting the invitation to have their first regional summit at Cambinata Yabbies function centre where people could experience the reality of trying to find a spot where they could connect and for bringing a bus load of people from the city. Mary spoke of the need for government involvement in addressing the poor connectivity arguing that although rural and regional areas are comparatively sparsely populated the value of the GDP generated and the potential to further grow the GDP through connectivity warranted substantial investment as did being able to keep children, young adults and mature age students in the regions through the delivery of educational opportunities on line.
The panel of experts were very well received and delivered thought provoking information which stimulated an array of questions. Politicians, government officials and the general public networked well past the conclusion of the event. The function centre was a buzz of conversation throughout the day.
The star of the event was eleven year old Gabrielle Nenke who asked her parents for permission to stay home from school to attend the event so that she could tell everyone the frustration at school of sitting in front of a computer for up to an hour waiting from information to down load. She also asked why Boyd Brown from Telstra why the cost of internet connection was so expensive for limited down load.
The highlight of the day was at the conclusion of the presentations when Senator Linda Reynolds asked the room would the audience return if she brought the Minister for Telecommunications to a second summit. There was unanimous agreement.
Article by M Nenke