Blackspots before towers: MHR
O’CONNOR MHR Rick Wilson believes it is “logical” to complete work to cover mobile blackspots before seeking funding for more mobile towers.
The comment follows criticism from Warren Blackwood MLA Terry Redman about the “underwhelming funding” for mobile communication towers in the 2017 Federal Budget.
“You would think that something as fundamental as regional communications would be a priority,” he said.
Mr Wilson said it was important to look at investment into better mobile coverage throughout regional WA.
However, it would be better to first complete the work outlined in the first three rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program, totalling $220 million.
“765 new and upgraded towers will be built under the first two rounds of the program,” he said.
“Another 125 priority locations, identified by the Government earlier this year, will be covered under the additional $60 million we committed to the program last year.”
Of the 86 towers promised for the O’Connor region through the program, only 10 have been completed.
“Construction of the towers under round 1 and 2 is still ongoing, so the priority for us is finishing that work,” Mr Wilson said.
Mr Redman said up-to-date communication technology was vital for regional businesses, agricultural practices and tourism, as well as the safety of families.
“With communications a Federal responsibility, I am extremely disappointed that such a trivial amount has been allocated for regional phone towers in the budget,” he said.
Mr Wilson said the promise of 86 towers for O’Connor was an outstanding outcome for the communities.
The Federal Budget allocated $60 million funding for mobile towers across the country for 2017/18 to 2019/20.
Round 1 of the program promised 60 towers, 30 in round 2 and when electorate boundaries changed in 2015, brought it to 86.