MP calls for Federal Mobile Black Spot Program to continue

MP calls for Federal Mobile Black Spot Program to continue

Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie has called on the Federal Government to continue its Mobile Phone Black Spot Program following an SA-BEST announcement that the Party will match the SA Liberals’ recent promise of $10 million in co-funding for mobile phone towers in rural black spots.

“The biggest hurdle to the SA Liberals’ $10 million promise is there are no further rounds of the Federal Mobile Phone Black Spot Program beyond the Round 3 of what is essentially Government Priority Locations,” said Rebekha, Mayo’s Nick Xenophon Team Federal Member.

“This leaves the possibility that the SA Liberals $10 million co-funding commitment could be an empty promise.

“After three rounds of the Federal Mobile Phone Black Spot Program, 129 sites in Mayo nominated by our community as black spot areas remain unfunded and 44 of those sites are considered priority sites.

“I call on my Federal colleagues, particularly my colleagues in Government to ensure this funding proposal, backed by SA-BEST gets the ‘biggest bang for buck’ by demanding at least a further three rounds of the Federal Mobile Phone Black Spot Program.”

SA-BEST leader Nick Xenophon said investing in a reliable mobile phone network would improve the safety of regional South Australians but Federal co-funding was essential.

“Any investment by the State must be coupled with all Federal MPs in SA pushing for Rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the Mobile Phone Black Spot Program,” he said.

“It cannot be acceptable that so much of South Australia remains without coverage, this program cannot be closed until we have coverage, regional South Australia deserves better.”

Given the recent scrapping of the emergency service app Alert SA, SA-BEST candidate for Kavel Andrew Stratford said residents in high bush fire risk areas were calling for more investment in regional mobile services.

“Having reliable reception for your mobile phone is so important in the Hills where the topography creates so many black spots,” Mr Stratford said.

“This is not just about your phone dropping out, this is about having a form of communication that is reliable in times of high bushfire risk.”

SA-BEST candidate for Heysen John Illingworth said building a resilient mobile phone network was a shared responsibility.

“We need to work together with our Federal colleagues to bring about positive change to build more reliable telecommunications in rural and regional communities,” Mr Illingworth said.

The Federal Government committed $220 million to the Mobile Black Spot Program for Round 1 in 2015 and Round 2 in 2016, including $60 million for “priority locations” in Round 3.

State governments have co-contributed $141.2 million including New South Wales ($32.7 million), Queensland ($23.7 million), Victoria ($28.9 million), Western Australia ($53.8 million), South Australia ($1.4 million) and Tasmania ($0.7 million).

Mayo was allocated one tower at Montacute in Round 1, which is still in the planning stages.

In Round 2, two towers were allocated at Parawa on the Fleurieu Peninsula and Stokes Bay on Kangaroo Island.

A tower at Ashbourne has gone out for tender as a priority location in Round 3.