Politicians call for new subsea cable in upcoming Australian state election

Political support is building up for a new subsea cable to link the Australian state of Queensland with the US or Asia.

Spurred by state elections on 25 November, politicians from the so-called Sunshine Coast district just north of Brisbane, the state capital, are calling for a new subsea cable to be constructed by 2020.

“With all submarine cables on the east coast of Australia landing in Sydney, every time a Queenslander makes an international telephone call, text or accesses the internet it travels via terrestrial networks to Sydney before heading to its international destination,” said Mark Jamieson, mayor of the district.

The Labor Party, which has been in control of Queensland since 2015, has offered its support of the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Submarine Cable Project if re-elected later this month.

Jamieson and other politicians are complaining that Australia is connected to the world by five subsea cables, four running into Sydney – 1,000km south of Brisbane – and one into Perth, on the other side of the country.

The local council says that the close proximity of the four existing cables in Sydney poses a significant risk for most of Australia’s existing commercial data centre capacity and internet connectivity.

The council is completing a feasibility study for the proposed new cable and says it wants to issue a request for proposals by the end of the year.

The Sunshine Coast district says it is positioning itself as Australia’s leading smart city region. It adds that it its beach is “the first viable landing point on the eastern seaboard of Australia, travelling south from Cape York [at the northern tip of the country] for a cable that links to Asia and/or to the United States”.

According to the council, the proposed cable would save $A30-$A40 million a year in the cost of backhaul to Sydney and would provide a potential economic boost of $A927 million to the Queensland economy.

Jamieson said: “This cable will stimulate local business, generate new investment and improve telecommunications diversity to Australia’s east coast as well as adding significant value to the new Maroochydore City Centre – Australia’s only greenfield [central business district] at this time – now under construction.”

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