Pauline Hanson sets up crucial sub-sea cable meeting
A BREAKTHROUGH meeting struck by controversial One Nation leader Pauline Hanson could help the Sunshine Coast land a technology coup.
The Queensland Senator has brokered a meeting between Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and representatives from the Australian Communications and Media Authority to discuss why the Sunshine Coast Council's application to build a broadband submarine cable has stalled.
Senator Hanson has called on the Federal Government to "please explain" why the application to connect the Coast to the US, Pacific and Asia with an international, broadband sub-sea cable had been "placed in abeyance".
Senator Hanson's calls came after she met with Deputy Mayor Tim Dwyer, council staff and Buderim MP and One Nation state leader Steve Dickson about a fortnight ago.
The application was first made in July, 2015, for the technology to be brought ashore on the Sunshine Coast, creating just the second submarine cable point on the eastern seaboard, and an alternative option to Sydney.
"This is a vital piece of nation building infrastructure that would mean better internet speeds and a huge boost to economic potential for Queensland - It should go ahead without delay," Senator Hanson said.
Cr Jamieson is headed to Canberra today for a meeting with Mr Fifield and the Authority's representatives.
The Sunshine Coast Council recently received a $250,000 Federal grant to progress a feasibility study into the subsea cable, although the push is still on for a commitment to grant a submarine cable protection zone in the region.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in his role as former Communications Minister, expressed his support for a subsea cable on the Coast back in September, 2015.
"I think a subsea cable landing on the Sunshine Coast would be very good for both the Sunshine Coast and for Australia," Mr Turnbull said on that visit.
"I think it's a terrific idea ... It's got a huge amount of merit."
Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien said he hoped that arrival of funds back in June would prove inspiration for the council to engage with the private sector to build the cable.
An international cable coming ashore on the Coast would also provide a boost to national security, with four of the nation's five existing cable connections in Sydney and the other in Perth.
Independent modelling undertaken by AEC Group forecast an additional $700 million would be injected into the Coast's economy each year, and $1.1 billion into the Queensland economy, if a cable connection was established in the region.
"By connecting the Sunshine Coast and Queensland to submarine cable, Queensland will no longer be forced to rely on land connections from Sydney, boosting the economic potential of all of Australia and at the same time addressing a major national security risk," Senator Hanson said.
Senator Hanson said she would also canvass changes to the Telecommunications Act to help the council secure a submarine cable protection zone declaration.