Mobile black spot funding welcome
VICTORIAN Farmers Federation has welcomed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement that the Coalition will commit an additional $60 million to rid rural areas of mobile black spots.
But the farmer lobby group has cautioned that while it’s a good start, ongoing investment is required to really make a difference.
“We appreciate the Government’s attempt to address the rural telecommunications problem, but the current investment falls well short of what is necessary to provide an adequate mobile phone service for rural customers,” VFF President Peter Tuohey said.
“Rural and regional communities account for seven per cent of Australia’s population, and we need to make sure that they receive the same quality phone service as their metropolitan counterparts.”
“We’re also calling on Labor and the Greens to make strong commitments to ridding rural areas of mobile black spots.”
The first two rounds of the Coalition Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program resulted in 499 new mobile base stations which have delivered 68,600 square kilometres of new coverage.
This announcement would bring total investment in eliminating black spots to $220 million if the Coalition is elected on July 2.
“Mobile black spots are a huge issue in rural areas, so while it’s pleasing to see the current scheme topped up, a commitment for ongoing investment in rural telecommunications infrastructure would show that the Coalition is serious about improving conditions for rural Australians,” Mr Tuohey said.
Results from a survey conducted last year by the VFF found that many farm businesses were suffering as a result of poor mobile coverage.
“Mobile coverage is crucial, not just for farm safety, but for everything from checking market reports on your phone to emailing yield data to your agronomist,” Mr Tuohey said.
“We need to ensure that people in rural and remote areas see the full benefit of mobile phone coverage, and while the additional funding announced is a good start, we’re calling on all sides of politics to prioritise ongoing investment in telecommunications infrastructure.”
New tower installations that are nearing completion are located at Kalkee which is due for completion at any time, Boolite to the east is scheduled for completion before the mid year and the site at Kewell is scheduled for completion late in the second quarter of the year. There is also a new site being planned out in the Murra Warra area.[