Blackspots be­fore tow­ers: MHR

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Times News - Tari Jef­fers

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.

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