Federal Government responds to natural disaster inquiry

NUMEROUS changes have already been made to communications systems in light of natural disasters in Queensland, the Federal Government's response to a 2011 Senate inquiry revealed on Tuesday.

The Senate Environment and Communications references committee investigated the nation's emergency response and communications systems, making six recommendations in November last year.

While the government has supported one of the committee's six recommendations, it has only "noted" the others, instead outlining limited action it can take on the issue.

In its nine page response to the inquiry into the capacity of communication networks and emergency warnings systems, the government wrote it had set up a committee to "effectively coordinate" the contact details database.

But the government noted the state and territory agencies all had media services and dedicated databases already in place.

While such a database was in place before the devastating 2010 floods in Queensland, it had to be updated during the natural disaster, with the help of several non-government organisations.

The government said it supported another recommendation to ensure narrowband voice radio communications between all jurisdictions be completed "as soon as practicable".

The response said such work was being completed through the Council of Australian Governments; which as also creating a set of standard operating procedures for all states, territories and Commonwealth issues.

While the government merely noted a recommendation to allocate public broadband spectrum for disaster relief arrangements, it has already taken action, with plans to release 10MHz for public mobile 4G capacity.

Topics:  federal government natural disaster senate inquiry

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