August 30, 2012
Improving mobile phone blackspots has been put on hold by the Gillard Government for another three years according to Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.
Mr Chester said the government’s response to the Sinclair Review had ignored a recommendation to expand services.
“The Sinclair Review found that mobile phone coverage is the number one telecommunications issue in regional Australia,” Mr Chester said.
“It recommended that the Federal Government introduce a co-investment program with State and Local Governments to improve mobile coverage.
“However, rather than adopt the recommendation and start to improve mobile phone coverage in regional communities, the Gillard Government has decided not to fund any new program until the NBN fixed wireless network is completed in 2015.”
Mr Chester said the move would disappoint local residents who regularly raise the issue of mobile phone coverage as a priority for Gippsland.
“There have been improvements in recent years as technology has become more advanced but the Gillard Government has ignored the issue over the past five years,” Mr Chester said.
“The Coalition Government invested $145 million to improve mobile coverage in regional Australia but since Labor was elected in 2007, not one additional cent has been invested by the government to improve the mobile phone network in the regions.
“Many mobile phone blackspots could be fixed across regional Australia for the cost of the NBN rollout in a single week.”
Mr Chester said his community survey indicated that only 31 per cent of people in Gippsland believed that mobile phone signals across the region were satisfactory and 67 per cent of Gippslanders believed the Federal Government should pay for mobile phone blackspots to be upgraded.
“The Gillard Government has got its priorities wrong on regional telecommunications and the Minister is completely out of touch with regional Australia,” Mr Chester said.
Gippslanders can register mobile phone blackspots by contacting Mr Chester’s Sale office on 1300 131 785 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org