Shire of Augusta-Margaret River will investigate poor radio reception amid emergency concerns

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Cr Greg Boland.
Camera IconCr Greg Boland. Credit: PIETER NAESSENS/Pieter Naessens

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River will investigate historically poor reception for ABC radio across the region amid concerns about emergency preparedness.

ABC reception issues were flagged during the most recent meeting of the Shire’s local emergency management committee after an emergency training exercise in Augusta highlighted difficulties.

Councillor Greg Boland urged the local government to liaise with the ABC to improve reception because a battery-powered radio was a recommended item in residents’ toolkit during any bushfire scenario.

However, he said it was not helpful if emergency radio broadcasts could not be picked up.

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The lack of adequate reception for the taxpayer-funded broadcaster was something the councillor had noted for years before moving to Margaret River full-time in 2019.

“The reception is quite poor,” Cr Boland said. “In a bushfire emergency we are told to keep a battery-powered radio as a last resort in case everything else fails.

“Let’s investigate what is wrong with our radio reception around here.”

Signal maps provided to councillors last month showed the southern half of the shire was in the weakest area for reception from a transmitter based in the City of Busselton.

Shire president Julia Meldrum said the council was committed to working with the ABC to resolve the difficulties.

“Our shire spans across a large area, so to ensure residents in all locations can access broadcast emergency information, council agreed to engage with ABC radio to see how radio coverage might be improved,” she said.

An ABC spokesperson said many factors could affect reception but ABC was also available in Augusta at 98.3FM.

“The ABC is continually seeking opportunities to improve our footprint and signal strength in regional and remote Australia, and we welcome any feedback from residents experiencing reception issues so a more detailed investigation into the possible causes can be made,” they said.

Former ABC broadcaster Ian Parmenter, who lives at Rosa Brook, said AM-band reception was “vital” for people living in regional WA.

“The least that should happen is for the Augusta region to have an AM tower,” he said.

“Most people in Australia’s regions rely on AM radio for fire and other emergency warnings.

“The situation here in the South West is dire.”

Mr Parmenter said attention was needed for areas including Hamelin Bay, which struggled not just with radio reception but mobile phone signals and internet.

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