GOVERNMENT USING MOBILE BLACKSPOT FUNDS TO PUMP UP ITS ELECTION BID

The Morrison Governments’ decision to push ahead with a 5th round of Mobile Phone Blackspot funding can only be seen as a clumsy attempt to pork barrel regional electorates in the lead up to the Federal Election.

The Minister has advised phone companies that Round 5 of the program is open with nominations for the program closing on 21 July, despite the fact that rounds 1-4 are not even close to completion.

Click here for the list of incomplete base stations 

Nominations received during the formal election period cannot be acted upon. The caretaker conventions prohibit any decisions being made which would bind an incoming Government.

It is bizarre that the Government is opening a further round of the trouble-plagued program when 31 towers promised after the 2013 election have not yet been completed, and 71 of the 102 towers promised as election commitments in the 2016 election campaign have not been activated.

MOBILE PHONE BLACKSPOT PROGRAM ACTIVATIONS

ROUND

PROMISED

NOT DELIVERED

Round 1

499

31

Round 2

266

65

Round 3

102

71

Round 4

180

180

Nearly 20% of mobile base stations from Rounds 1, 2 & 3 and 100% of base stations from round 4 are not yet operational, raising doubts about Minister McKenzie’s claims that all base stations under the first three rounds will be operational by 30 June.

In 2016, the Australian National Audit Office issued a damning report on the Government’s handling of Round 1 of the Mobile Black Spot Program and identified numerous flaws in the programs design and administration.

More than 80 per cent of the locations for publicly funded phone towers were in Liberal or National electorates with less than seven per cent in electorates held by Labor Members.

The ANAO report found that ‘the program criteria were so flawed that nearly 20 per cent of new mobile phone towers funded in Round 1 (89 of 499) provided no new or extended coverage and up to 39 base stations were planned to be built in the same areas by carriers without the need for public funding.’

The Coalition cannot claim to be delivering for regional Australia, when many of the promises they have made remain unfulfilled.