Article by: Hari Yellina
As floods continue to ravage the country, further assistance has been extended to farmers and regional communities, while millions of dollars will be invested to enhance the sustainability of mobile phone networks. Concessional loans of up to $250,000, as well as critical working capital loans of up to $100,000, will be available to help impacted primary producers, small companies, and not-for-profits get back on their feet. Farmers can also get up to $5000 in freight subsidies for moving cattle, feed, machinery, gasoline, water, and building and fencing materials. More than $100 million in assistance has already been distributed to more than 50 local government districts across Queensland and NSW.
Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Emergency Services, said the information was available online through myGov, but that people may also phone the Australian Government Emergency Information Line at 1800 22 66. Senator McKenzie added, “We have made financial help accessible immediately because we know the economic impact of disasters like these is felt long after the floodwaters recede.” “Thousands of individuals in Queensland and NSW will have difficult days, weeks, and months ahead, and the clean-up and rehabilitation process will take time.” The government has also set aside nearly $11 million to improve the resilience of mobile networks in the face of natural disasters.
Optus, Telstra, and TPG Telecom will undertake 544 mobile network resilience upgrades across the country with to funding from Round 2 of the Mobile Network Hardening Program (MNHP). Permanent power generators will be installed, as will battery reserves, transmission resiliency upgrades to protect against network transmission outages, and site hardening measures such as protective ember screens to shield locations from potential ember or flame impacts. Senator McKenzie stated, “Mobile phones are crucial for individuals in regional and remote regions to obtain critical supports both during and after natural catastrophes like bushfires and floods.” More than 460 mobile phone towers had their auxiliary backup supply improved as part of stage one of the initiatives.