22nd June 2020

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:21): I rise today to speak about some of the goings on in the great electorate of Chaffey. Last Friday, it was great to be in Berri, in the Riverland, to be part of the announcement and launch of the 5G tower—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: For the uninitiated who occasionally might understand where the regions are and the lack of digital connectivity, what we saw in Berri on Friday was the launch of the 5G network. It was a great opportunity for me to go up there and meet with Mark Bolton, Telstra's district manager. As a sign of goodwill, Mark announced, opened and launched the 5G capability in Berri. It was a great outcome for the people of Berri.

Yes, they had been in and out of service for around a week due to the upgrade of that facility, the tower and all the works. What I will say is that for those who waited, great things have come. The 5G network has hit the Riverland and I am expecting to see more Telstra service networks in the area. I extend the invitation to other telcos: if they are looking to come up to the Riverland and also provide that extended 5G network, I welcome them. It is about connecting the Riverland with the world.

The capacity for the bandwidth and speed is an outstanding success for the people of the Riverland. For far too long—and the Riverland is a shining example—we have missed digital connections over a long period of time. People have been working from home and businesses have been decentralising; they now have the benefit of that 5G capability.

I must say, that is an outstanding achievement. But wait, there is more. Telstra also went out to Bower, a town that borders Chaffey and Stuart. In another great outcome, Bower now has mobile phone reception. We have seen a further upgrade. This government has put in place a blackspot program in collaboration with the commonwealth.

Bower has mobile phone reception and they are celebrating. They have called out for this for a long period of time, and with the strong advocacy of myself and the member for Stuart, the state government has partnered with the telcos and the commonwealth government's Mobile Black Spot Program to provide another service in regional South Australia. This is enhancing what the regions mean to the South Australian economy. It is a $25 billion economy and the Riverland is proud to be part of it as a shining light.

The Minister for Education was today talking about upgrading schools in regional centres. Last Friday, I called in to the Glossop senior campus, where construction has begun for the amalgamation of the middle and senior campuses. Once again, this is a great outcome for Chaffey. I thank the Minister for Education for his foresight in bringing those two campuses together, as well as bringing year 7 into high school. It will be a great outcome. I am looking forward to that community and the transition because it is a really exciting time. Since coming into this parliament, I have worked on the amalgamation of those two campuses. I have worked with three principals to get this project up and that school is celebrating because of the increased capacity.

I also want to make an individual acknowledgement of a Riverlander who has been a great community supporter and a great sporting contributor to the Cobdogla community. Shane Nettle has been an outstanding contributor and is well known and respected around the tennis circuit in the Riverland. Shane was recently named the winner of the Rural Volunteer Achievement Award at the Tennis SA awards. I thank him for all his work and for coaching the young and up-and-coming tennis stars.

Cobdogla is home to some of our great young juniors, and none more important than Luke Saville, a junior Wimbledon champion, as well as the Rischbieths, and there are many more budding junior champions coming out of the Cobdogla Tennis Club. Shane started off as a junior at Cobdogla and he has volunteered for almost 35 years. He has been recognised for his coaching work, his fundraising efforts and his ongoing teaching at the Cobdogla Primary School. I thank him for that, as does the Cobdogla community. Shane is a deserving recipient of this award and I congratulate him.