Don't put regions on hold over mobile black spot funding
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed the Government's announcement of an extra $160 million for mobile phone black spots and called on the Opposition to match the funding commitment.
"Reliable telecommunications can be a life and death issue in regional Australia so we need both major parties to commit to continuing the Mobile Black Spot Program going into the 2019 election," Rebekha said.
"I have always advocated for further rounds of program after first winning office in 2016. To date Mayo has only been allocated five base station sites in three rounds and one of them, promised in Round 1, is the subject of legal action and is yet to be built.
"We've yet to hear if Mayo has had any success in Round 4 of the program, which was worth $25 million, so I am delighted to hear that the Government has today pledged $160 million for Rounds 5 and 6.
"We have nearly 130 sites nominated by our community as black spot areas with more than 40 considered priority sites.
"After three rounds we've barely scratched the surface of the coverage needed in our region so we need both sides of politics to back this move."
The program has delivered 876 new base stations across Australia worth more than $680 million with the Federal Government contribution being $220 million.
State Governments and telecommunication companies have been co-contributors to the remaining investment.
The Government launched Round 4 last year and on Monday the Minister for Regional Telecommunications, Senator Bridget McKenzie, announced that 180 new base stations would be built.
The locations for South Australia are yet to be publicly released.
"In last sitting of Parliament I met with Stephen Jones, the Opposition Spokesman for Regional Telecommunications, to seek his commitment to continue improving mobile phone coverage in country Australia," Rebekha said.
"We need to make sure both the major parties are on board when it comes to ensuring regional Australia has the mobile coverage so essential for our safety, for work, education and social connection."