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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6155


Mr RICK WILSON (O'Connor) (13:58): The mobile phone black spot program, which was instituted by the Prime Minister in his former capacity as the Minister for Communications, has been a great success in my electorate of O'Connor. Eighty-six towers have been approved, 60 of which have been constructed. Once the remaining towers are functional, it will increase mobile coverage in O'Connor by 33,000 square kilometres.

There have been a number of site difficulties though, most prominently at a coastal location called Salmon Holes, in the Torndirrup National Park, near my home town of Albany. Over the past few years, 13 people have been swept to their deaths from the rocks at Salmon Holes, the latest in May this year. This notorious area currently has no mobile phone coverage.

Chris Johns and Murray Martin, of the volunteer Albany Sea Rescue Squad, have alerted me to this matter, and a recent coronial inquiry reiterated the extreme danger created by this lack of communications infrastructure. Last week I had a positive meeting with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions' district manager Peter Hartley and regional manager Greg Mair, whose agency manages the national park. Mr Hartley informed me that they would love to see mobile phone coverage as soon as possible and were working with Telstra towards a solution that would not impact on the natural beauty of the area. I've also been working closely with the Minister for Regional Communications, Senator Bridget McKenzie, who has asked Telstra to consider providing coverage, using a small cell tower. We're all eagerly awaiting an outcome that will preserve lives and keep our volunteers safe.

The SPEAKER: In accordance with standing order 43, the time for members' statements has concluded.