Feds, WA cop flak over blackspots
Federal member for Durack Melissa Price has defended the Federal Government amid criticism it largely excluded regional WA from the third and latest round of mobile blackspot funding.
Only seven locations in WA out of 106 nationwide were prioritised, and of those, only one location — Lake Clifton in the Peel region — is in regional WA.
State Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan slammed the decision, saying the Federal Government had “shown disdain for WA”.
“Our GST share is just the tip of the iceberg: now WA is being ripped off by the Federal Government on mobile blackspot funding,” she said.
“We’re calling on the Federal Government to take an open and transparent look at WA’s needs on mobile blackspots, and to stump up a fairer share for our State.”
But Ms Price said regional WA had received a significant amount of money in previous stages of funding.
“Over rounds one and two, regional WA received around 25 per cent of the total funding for mobile blackspots in Australia,” she said.
“Between Durack and O’Connor, the two big country WA electorates, there were 170 mobile base stations funded.”
Ms Price said Durack had “done incredibly well out of the mobile phone blackspot fund”, having received funding for 89 new or upgraded mobile base stations over the past three years.
“We have been very fortunate in Durack with how many mobile base stations the Federal Government has funded, and criticism from a Government that has just announced they aren’t funding any is a little hollow,” she said.
Ms Price said Ms MacTiernan’s criticism was a “smokescreen” for the State Government’s recent admission it would not fund any new mobile phone base stations for the entirety of its term. WAFarmers policy executive officer Grady Powell was also among those to condemn the lack of funding allocated for WA.
“To have only seven locations identified as priority areas in WA, a State which covers approximately a third of the country, is completely unacceptable,” he said.
“It is also disappointing that the Federal Government did not consult with the State Government on the location of priority areas, as it had done in previous rounds of the program.”