After resisting Labor’s calls for further funding to fix mobile black spots, yesterday’s backtrack and admission by the Minister for Regional Communications that more needs to be done is long overdue.
Just last month, Minister McKenzie claimed she needed to wait for the Regional Telecommunications Review Report later this year to report before knowing what to invest in.
This followed an outcry from regional stakeholders including the Rural, Regional and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) expressing disappointment at the lack of funding in the Budget.
Then it was revealed in Senate Estimates that there was a $24.6 million underspend in Rounds 2 and 3 of the Mobile Black Spots Program.
Now, following Labor’s recent announcement of a $2 million Regional Connectivity Package in Braddon, Minister McKenzie has now made a token effort in this neglected portfolio.
The only conclusion is that Minister McKenzie has been embarrassed into token action on funding mobile black spots.
As for the Minister’s misleading claim that Labor in government did nothing on mobile black spots, the government’s program would not be possible without the fibre backhaul network being built as part of the NBN project.
Without fibre backhaul connecting these towers to the network, the government’s mobile towers would be nothing more than “poles in a paddock”.