Govt has 'failed to deliver' on region's mobile blackspots
WITH a Federal Election just weeks away, Labor candidate for Wide Bay Jason Scanes has accused the Federal Government of failing to deliver when it comes to fixing the region's mobile blackspots.
Mr Scanes said five mobile base stations across the electorate had been promised but not yet delivered.
The blackspot areas included Poona, Boreen Point, Cootharaba Rd, the Wide Bay Highway at Cinnabar and the Wide Bay Highway at Kilkivan-Goomeri.
"Promises have been made by the Morrison Government to residents in Wide Bay and not kept," Mr Scanes said.
Labor spokesman for Regional Communications Stephen Jones questioned why the Federal Government was pushing ahead with a further round of the program when base station from previous rounds were "barely settled".
"More than three years after promises have been made, there are currently 167 or nearly 20 per cent of the promised base stations not yet on air.
"This includes base stations promised in Round 1, more than four years ago," he said.
"The government's Mobile Black Spot Program has been troubled, with poor program design, disappointing community outcomes and delays."
But the incumbent member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien said Labor had an appalling record when it came to improving mobile phone communications in regional communities.
When Labor last came to office it abolished a $2 billion regional communications fund that was purposefully designed by the former Howard Government to improve communications in regional communities, he said.
"The former Labor Government did nothing to improve mobile phone coverage in Wide Bay during its six years in office," Mr O'Brien said.
"In the time since then Bill Shorten's Labor has failed to commit to any new mobile phone base stations in Wide Bay. None. Zero. Zilch.
"In contrast, the Liberal and Nationals Government has committed to 17 sites in Wide Bay."
The LNP Government has extended the mobile phone network to Glastonbury, Kin Kin, Maryborough Biggenden Road - Gungaloon, Widgee, Woolooga, Maaroom, Pomona Kin Kin Road, Tansey, Windera, and Yerra.
Mr O'Brien said the government provided a subsidy to service providers to extend the mobile phone network to locations there is no or very poor coverage.
The service providers are responsible for managing construction and activation of the sites, he said.
For a typical base station, planning to activation takes between 12 and 18 months.
Under the conditions of the Mobile Phone Black Spot Program, all base stations that have been announced for Wide Bay under the first three rounds, including Poona, Wide Bay Highway - Oakview, Wide Bay Highway - Cinnabar, Boreen Point, and Cootharaba, will be operational by 30 June 2019.
"I want the service providers to complete their work on the five outstanding sites and activate them as soon as possible," Mr O'Brien said.