While no new funding will come from the Federal government’s latest pronouncement on the Mobile Black Spot Program, it’s a safe bet the Tasmanian electorate of Braddon will get its share of new phone towers judging by yesterday’s announcement.
On Sunday Regional Communications Minister Bridget McKenzie announced in the Tasmanian West Coast electorate of Braddon that the last $25 million of the government’s $220m funding pool would be spent on new phone towers to “ensure regional Australians are not left behind”.
The $25m for round four will come from the $83m already allocated round three, which was dubbed the ‘priority locations’ round. Round four has essentiually the same goal, and will target mobile coverage on transport routes, rural and remote communities and tourism hotspots with seasonal demand.
Braddon is one of two electorates, along with Longman in Queensland, which the Government will contest in the Super Saturday byelections on July 28.
A marginal electorate, Braddon was held by Labor on a 2.5 per cent margin until Justine Keay she resigned over dual citizenship. She won the seat from Liberal Brett Whiteley in 2016 on preferences.
The government was criticised for not extending Black Spot funding in the Federal Budget last month,
Government may be waiting for a report from its Regional Telecommunications Review, which kicked off in May, before it announces new regional telecommunications policy.
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The Black Spot program co-funds new towers with telcos which are not commercially viable without public investment. Rounds one and two included public submissions for priority locations.
Round four is the same as round three, limiting input to telcos, state, territory and local governments, as well as businesses, community organisations and emergency services.
Mr Whiteley highlighted the Coalition’s previous Black Spot funding for Braddon.
“Since the Coalition formed government in 2013, we have delivered mobile base stations in Temma, Gawler, Rocky Cape, Sisters Beach, Yolla, Elliot, Melrose, South Riana and Loyetea. Three more base stations around Yolla, Gunns Plains and Devonport are due to come online soon,” Mr Whiteley said.
Reliable mobile coverage is taken for granted in the cities, but it's a different story out in the regions. The Coalition is today announcing $25 million for a new round of funding under the Mobile Black Spot Program, making a real difference 📳📱#regionsmatter#regionalcommspic.twitter.com/xbnG9dgHJG— Senator Bridget McKenzie (@senbmckenzie) June 10, 2018
“Under this new round of the program, the Coalition will improve phone coverage along transport routes, in small communities, as well as in areas with unique coverage issues such as tourism hotspots with seasonal demand.”
Senator McKenzie and Mr Whiteley were joined at the announcement by the Nationals’ Steve Martin, the party’s new Tasmanian Senator and its first Upper House MP in the state.
Government is fielding submissions for tower locations. Building is expected to start this year.