Fibre connection needed to unlock Gulf Country

Article image - Fibre connection needed to unlock Gulf Country Burke Shire Council Mayor, Ernie Camp, said the fibre connection between Burketown and Normanton would have an impact on the lives of nearly 800,000 Queenslanders.

Burke Shire, Queensland is missing the link that will open up an untapped well of digitally-driven economic prosperity.

That is the view of Mayor Ernie Camp, who is leading the call for a fibre optic network to be installed between Burketown and Normanton, in a move that will provide a game-changing advantage to a geographic area much larger than the two remote Gulf of Carpentaria communities.

“There’s fibre in Burketown and Normanton already, but what’s missing is the connection between them that will allow Council to further promote the Burke Shire to digital nomads,” he explained.

“We speak to mobile entrepreneurs who want to visit and work in our region for a period of time, but they can’t do it unless we can offer them a level of connectivity as good as they can get at home.

“Government keeps telling us regional infrastructure development is a priority, and this project should be a priority because it’s a game changer that would let us unlock the digital potential of the Gulf Country.”

A feasibility and cost analysis has already been undertaken, and Chief Executive Officer, Clare Keenan, said the $18 million project would also provide a redundancy for network users on the east coast.

“Not only will connecting Burketown and Normanton with fibre increase our economic capacity, it will provide a redundancy loop for almost 800,000 people,” she said.

“That figure alone should get the project across the line as one of technological significance, and it would be fantastic to see stakeholders come together to ensure that this much-needed infrastructure becomes a reality as soon as possible.

“There’s no point investing to attract tourists if they can’t spend money with our businesses because the cable between Townsville and Mount Isa has been cut and EFTPOS systems are down.” 

This was something that happened a number of times last year, Ms Keenan said.

Council’s sentiment was echoed by Member for Traeger, Robbie Katter, who said the project needed to be considered for what it would deliver for Queenslanders living in the state’s north in terms of liveability and
connectivity security.

“Getting this fibre optic connection between Burketown and Normanton is about much more than connecting remote communities.

“It will certainly open up the region for digital economic development at a local level, but the other thing to remember is that it will provide a connection safeguard for about 15 percent of Queensland’s entire population.

“That in itself speaks to how the project stacks up economically, and why it must be prioritised in the interest of further developing North West Queensland.”

Mayor Camp said Council would continue to lobby stakeholders for the project
to progress in 2020.