Labor welcomes the additional regional communications funding announced by Minister for Regional Communications today, but says that it is also an acknowledgement that despite the billions spent by the Coalition on their second-rate copper NBN, that further investment is needed.

While further rounds 5 and 6 of the Mobile Black Spot Program are welcomed, it is clear the Nationals cannot be trusted to deliver it.

As the damming ANAO report into the Mobile Blackspot Program has shown, the Nationals are incapable maximising the regional benefit of taxpayer funded communications projects because they are so compromised by greed and pork barreling.

Labor is the only party which can be trusted to deliver funding, through merit based criteria, to regional communities where it delivers the most value.

There are currently more than 13,000 mobile black spots on the Government’s database, and only 1047 have been promised funding under the program.

The National’s flagship program has been plagued by delays and criticism by regulators

  • Only 650 of the Government’s Round 1 & 2 base stations are operational today - with nearly a quarter yet to become operational.
  • A further 116 base stations promised nearly three years ago in the 2016 Federal Election are yet to be completed.

In Government, Labor also invested in the $250 million Regional Backbone Blackspots Program (RBBP), which is providing the essential backhaul needed for mobile base stations.

The Minister’s new funding for a Regional Connectivity Program is an acknowledgement that the Coalition’s decision to rely on ageing copper has sold regional Australia short, with the Government missing their own low-ball national speed mandate in 5 out of 8 States and Territories.

In contrast, Federal Labor has a strong track record of investment in regional communications focused on community needs.

This includes Labor’s once in a generation nation-building investment to improve regional communications for every Australian through the establishment of a National Broadband Network.

The first thing every regional local council I meet with raises is their need for better broadband. It is the top priority for regional Australia.

Regional Australians want more than empty promises from the Minister and from her Government, they want decent and reliable broadband.