Letters – Blackspot emergency

The lack of mobile phone coverage was highlighted when a fire broke out at a property in Bumbaldry between Cowra and Grenfell recently.

Blackspot emergency

Dear editor,

I bring to your urgent attention the following incident.

On  Monday August 29, 2017, a fire started in our house at

“Bushview”, 32 Claypit Road, Bumbaldry.

The fire quickly effected the electrical system which shut down, causing loss of landline phone and water supply.

Due to our location, mobile phone coverage was not available.

My partner had to fight the fire with a bucket of dog water and a fire blanket as she was unable to call for help.

With sheer determination and suffering from burnt hands, she controlled and extinguished the fire.

The resulting damage cost amounted to $4000.

The Mid Western Highway transverses this area between Cowra and Grenfell and has an actual average daily traffic count (ADT) of 1301 vehicles.

This highway is the main route for traffic travelling to West Wyalong, Hay and beyond.

The breakdown of the ADT shows 566 light vehicle movements (cars) and 735 heavy vehicle movements (vehicles above 12.5 tonne GVM).

These figures are for normal day to day traffic movement. There is a dramatic increase during holiday and harvest periods.

The area has a medium density rural population and includes the rural location of Bumbaldry, and the village of Greenethorpe which is situated 11 klms south east of Bumbaldry.

The age demographic identifies the average age of the population at 43 years old.

This further indicates  that a percentage of these people may be reliant on urgent medical assistance.

Is it possible for the majority of these people to summon help in an emergency with no access to mobile phones.

 As you are no doubt aware the rapid intervention of appropriate pre hospital care is paramount to the survival rate, especially in cardiac related emergencies.

Again, this is not achievable without an effective and optimal mobile phone  network

The area has a hilly and scrubby profile which makes it very susceptible to bushfire.

Again how can help be accessed if there is no mobile service available.

Emergencies do not cater or subscribe to having to drive x amount of kilometres to get mobile access or to find a landline.

Research has shown that a house can be unsalvageable after 15 mins of intense fire.

Let’s consider days of extreme or catastrophic fire danger, how many families and property are going to be placed at extreme risk.

Interestingly the RFS use SMS message systems to advise of critical bushfire situations, ie, Watch and Act and Emergency warning.

Again, this can’t happen without an effective mobile system.  

I suggest that if this happened, the Coroner would ask some pertinent questions of the Communications Minister.

My question is why hasn’t there been any progress on mobile phone coverage in the Bumbaldry area, considering it has been identified as a Mobile Black Spot.

Senator Fiona Nash in an address to Parliament on December 1st 2016 addressed the issues of mobile black spots.

It is interesting to note that the RFS has a substantial communication tower situated north west of Bumbaldry which facilitates communications with  their fire vehicles.

Why can’t a mobile system be introduced and co-inhabit this tower?

How many houses have to be lost, or people seriously injured or killed before the Government takes action?

Why are the smaller areas ignored?

The inaction of the Federal Government in this matter is reprehensible and negligent and places lives and property at risk.

I ask the Prime Minister to explain why the Government has spent $122 million  on the SSM vote, and $90 million on compensation payments to refugees at Manus Island ( $70m compensation, and $20m in costs), but they won’t address the urgent issues regarding mobile black spots.

The issues of mobile black spots effect all three levels of Government, local, state and federal. Local Government has a mandate under Work Health and Safety legislation to provide a safe workplace.

This cannot be done when crews are working in isolated areas without mobile phone coverage.

The NSW Premier has an obligation to the people of NSW to provide appropriate communications systems, and the Federal Government has the responsibility to fund such systems.

Ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to your comments and action on this matter


Harvey Nicholson

“Bushview”, 32 Claypit Road, Bumbaldry. 

This letter was also sent to:

Office of the Prime Minister of Australia, Senator the Hon. Mitch Fifield, The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, MP, Premier of NSW, Hon. Michelle Rowland MP, Hon. Michael McCormack MP, Hon. Robert Borsak MLC, Hon. Phillip Donato MP, Senator the Hon. Fiona Nash, Senator the Hon. Senator. Pauline Hanson, Mr. Matthew Stadtmiller, SFF candidate Cootamundra Electorate, Ms.  Steph Cooke, NP candidate Cootamundra Electorate, Weddin Council General Manager, Weddin Council Mayor, Weddin Council Councillors, Clr. Bill West, Mayor Cowra Council, The Zone Manager, Mid Lachlan Valley Team, NSW RFS , The Zone Manager, Canobolas Zone, NSW RFS.