The Government has announced a new round of funding for the Mobile Black Spot Program. Although it is not new money – just recycled money unspent in the previous round – it is an opportunity to fix the massive distortion in the allocation of grants in rounds 1-3 of the program.
Across the three rounds of the program, 80% of the allocation went to Coalition seats.
There are over 10,000 on the public database. Only 40% have been funded, so the lack of new funding is a let down.
In Round 4 Australians are being asked to contact their local MP to report black spots.
There should be one in-tray in the Ministers office for all MPs, not an in-tray for Government MPs and a garbage bin for non-government MPs.
As the Government announces round four of the program, a recent ABC investigation found almost one in six of the towers funded in round one of the program are not yet operational.
Labor is calling on the Government to take a broader approach to this round of funding – to look at alternative technologies and mechanisms to extend coverage.
Labor has a strong track record of investment in regional communications. In government, Labor invested $250 million Regional Backbone Blackspots Program (RBBP) to enhance the supply of backhaul infrastructure in priority regional locations.
Backhaul is an essential link in the mobile transmission network. Without this investment in backhaul, the Coalition’s mobile base stations would not have been able to connect to the network.