The Andrews Labor Government has abandoned the Commonwealth Mobile Black Spot Programme in favour of its own system which chooses mobile tower locations based on merit and necessity rather than political interests.
The Labor Government will use the $11 million it planned to invest in the third round of the Commonwealth program to build new mobile towers across regional Victoria. Those towers will remove mobile blackspots and make regional communities safer, more liveable and more connected.
The latest round of funding builds on existing commitments to co-fund 141 new mobile towers with the Federal Government, Telstra and Optus. On top of this, the Labor Government announced a separate partnership with Optus in October to build an additional 25 towers throughout Victoria.
The decision to leave the Federal Government’s program is due to the Commonwealth failing to properly consult when choosing sites and a complete lack of transparency about how sites are chosen.
In stark contrast, the Labor Government has extensively engaged with Regional Partnerships, councils and Emergency Management Victoria about potential locations that will help keep regional communities safe and deliver value for money.
We will partner with the telecommunications industry to build the towers.
The new state run mobile black spot project is being delivered as part of the $45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program announced in the 2017/18 Victorian Budget.
The Labor Government has already invested almost $33 million in connecting 20,000 premises that previously had no or poor mobile coverage.
Other projects improving connectivity across regional Victoria are already underway or completed, including free public WiFi in Bendigo and Ballarat, and new mobile towers and signal boosters to improve coverage for commuters on regional rail.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy Philip Dalidakis
“Malcolm Turnbull continues to choose sites that are in his political interests, not the interests of regional Victoria.”
“We are putting regional Victoria first – helping people stay connected in their homes, at work and when they’re travelling.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford
“We will not compromise when it comes to community needs and safety. We’re working with Emergency Management Victoria, local councils and Regional Partnerships to get this right.”
“We know how frustrating the digital divide is for rural Victorians and we’ll continue to bridge the gap for rural industries, motorists, train travellers and residents while the Federal Government try to fix their botched NBN roll out.”