Labor fully supports a Mobile Black Spot Program to improve mobile phone coverage in regional Australia, but the Turnbull Government is simply failing to deliver on its promise.
With only 28 out of 499 base stations from Round 1 in operation more than a year after being announced, Labor has zero confidence in the Turnbull Governments ability to rollout this initiative.
In Round 1 of the program, the Turnbull Government was shown to be playing politics. 80% of funded base stations were put in Liberal and Nationals electorates.
Sadly this has continued under the second round of funding announced today with only 11% of funded base stations going to Labor electorates.
With bushfire season fast approaching, it beggars belief that rural electorates like Wakefield and McEwen, which have experienced devastating fires, have again been short changed and in the case of Wakefield completely overlooked again.
Instead, two base stations have been funded in the Brisbane local government area which happens to be in an Coalition electorate.
After the damming ANAO Report into Round 1 of this program, there is certainly ample scope to improve the delivery of Round 2 of this program.
The report released in September this year, found:
The criteria used to assess the merits of proposed base stations did not sufficiently target funding toward the expansion of coverage where none previously existed.
There were not established methodologies to inform the technical and financial assessment of applicant proposals from across Australia.
There is insufficient performance measurement and evaluation.
In Government Labor sought to address some of the mobile blackspots issues through the rollout of the NBN, which would enable the co-location of equipment on newly installed infrastructure. This would have been a more cost-effective approach that would have delivered greater competition in regional Australia and a faster deployment of mobile services.
We must do more to help regional communities when it comes to mobile black spots; this is infrastructure that people rely on.
THURSDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2016