Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, Stephen Jones MP, outlined Labors principles for expanding mobile coverage across regional Australia.
A Shorten Labor Government would work to address the criticism of the Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP) made by the Australia National Audit Office (ANAO), Productivity Commission and Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) and work with experts, community and state and local governments to deliver better community outcomes.
Labor remains committed to the role of Government in playing an active role to fund and facilitate improved mobile coverage where the market will not deliver outcomes.
In developing future policy direction it will be important to:
- Explore new technologies including small cells, repeaters, boosters and low orbit satellites to improve mobile coverage.
- Work to bring the States and Territories back into the mobile black spot program as well as developing better partnerships with local government.
- Adopt a more strategic approach by working with local communities on Regional Communications Plans that could identify opportunities to leverage public assets for improved connectivity outcomes.
With over 10,000 locations on the national mobile black spot register, there is clearly more to do.
When regional Australians struggle to access 3G and 4G mobile services, the regional connectivity task is not yet done.
Australia needs a strategic view about communications for the regions - not the amateur hour constantly on display from Mitch Fifield and Bridget McKenzie.
Our digital ecosystems will drive productivity growth in regional Australia over the next two decades. If our regions are not connected than, quite simply, they are not in the game.
Labor wants to see more co-investment, more co-location and more sharing of assets to deliver better mobile coverage for regional Australia and ensure a fair go for all Australians.