‘No current plans’ for 5G technology in the Whitsundays

CONTROVERSIAL 5G technology has been rumoured to be on its way to the Whitsundays, and although Telstra has denied any current plans, some residents are concerned it’s inevitable.

Telstra has confirmed that 5G is not being proposed for Airlie or Bowen at this stage but one resident is worried about the impact on the health of the community when it is.

A Telstra spokeswoman said 5G coverage was growing “day-by-day” and had commenced roll out to 32 cities across Australia.

The spokeswoman said there were no current plans in place for Bowen or Airlie Beach, however they were in the process of reviewing for the future.

“Initially the coverage rollout is focused on CBD areas of these cities where high numbers of our customers work, or pass through on a regular basis, with coverage extending over time into other areas in line with demand,” she said.

“There are currently no 5G sites in Bowen or Shute Harbour and we are still in the process of reviewing plans for next financial year.”

The spokeswoman said the safety of 5G had been based on “expert advice” as well as their own testing.

“With regard to the safety of 5G, we rely on the expert advice of Australian and international health authorities including the World Health Organisation (WHO), International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) for overall assessments relating to health and safety, as well as our own testing,” she said.

The 5G technology is said to emit low level electromagnetic energy similar to your microwave or car radio which has raised controversial concerns and sparked fears about radiation as many new wireless technologies have in the past.

The Airlie Beach resident says he’s seriously concerned about his health if 5G was to be rolled out and thinks there needs to be a wider community conversation on the potential health effects before any decisions are made for the Whitsunday region.

In contrast to Telstra’s recent statement to the Whitsunday Times, Nick Readman claims he received information from the company indicating there was a proposal in place for a tower in Shute Harbour.

Mr Readman said he had looked at both sides of the situation “critically” and simply wanted more studies done into the long-term health risks and a conversation within the community before they started planning for Airlie Beach.

“I try to look critically at both sides, I try to weigh it up and make my own decision on it and I just think there needs to be more studies done.

“There are conspiracists out there saying all kinds of things but there is some middle ground where we should be having a discussion, a public discussion with the council.”

After researching potential health effects from 5G, Mr Readman said he became aware of a severe lack of studies into the long-term effects, and after finding out that his health insurance company would not cover health effects related to 5G, he started to become concerned.

“I’m just a concerned resident, I’m not claiming to have qualifications or anything,” he said.

“I called three different life insurance companies and they are not going to cover you for 5G related health issues. A few other people I know have called theirs and it’s the same.

“The main issue is that they are going on without any studies into the effects long term. They say it’s safe but they are actually not looking into the long term.”

Mr Readman said other towns had some success with debating 5G towers, including Byron Bay, and he was asking for was a conversation with the community and the Whitsunday council before anything was decided.

“We should be having a public debate with science and facts before they just start rolling it out countrywide,” he said.

“It just seems like a blanket rule unfolding across the country and we haven’t had the right conversations.”

The Federal Government announced in December 2019 they would be investing $9 million to build “public confidence in the safety of telecommunications networks – including new 5G mobile networks – and to address misinformation about electromagnetic energy (EME) emissions which has caused concern in some parts of the community.”

Minister for communications, cyber safety and the arts Paul Fletcher said safety standards for mobile networks and devices in Australia drew on extensive scientific research into EME emissions, globally and in Australia.

“The enhanced EME program will make sure all Australians have access to clear, reliable and reputable information so they can take advantage of new technologies like 5G – and feel empowered to do so safely.”

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