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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 631

Mobile Black Spot Program

(Question No. 536)

M r K atter asked the Minister representing the Minister for Regional Communications, in writing, on 8 November 2016:

(1) Can the Minister provide assurance that there will be funding for a round 3 of the Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP).(2) Will his department address criticisms raised by the Australian National Audit Office about the MBSP, including inadequate (a) coverage, and (b) infrastructure (ie, base stations, towers, backhaul operations and optic cable infrastructure), in rural and remote regions, especially in Far North Queensland.(3) What is the Minister doing to encourage service providers for rural and remote areas to better utilise Government funding so that locations such as the Adels Grove Camping Ground (within the Boodjamulla/Lawn Hill National Park in the electoral division of Kennedy), attracting 30,000 to 40,000 tourists, campers and grey nomads each dry season, in addition to the 5,000 to 10,000 that visit the Boodjamulla/Lawn Hill National Park, Riversleigh district and the Gregory area, have adequate mobile phone coverage.(4) Given Telstra could re-utilise the nearby closed Century Mine's existing tower, Repeater Towers and backhaul/optic cable infrastructure, can the Minister indicate whether the Adels Grove Tourist Park will be included in round 2 of the MBSP that is being announced by the end of 2016.

Mr Fletcher : The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Government has announced that it will commit $60 million (GST exclusive) towards a third round of the Mobile Black Spot Program.

(2) The formal agency response from the Department of Communications and the Arts to the Australian National Audit Office's audit report 'Award of Funding under the Mobile Black Spot Programme' is available at

(3) The Government worked closely with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to develop guidelines for both rounds 1 and 2 of the Mobile Black Spot Program. The key objective of the program is to improve mobile coverage and competition in regional and remote parts of Australia.

The program has been highly successful in maximising co-contributions from third parties, including state and local governments and local communities. Together rounds 1 and 2 are delivering almost $600 million in new investment towards improving mobile coverage in regional and remote Australia.

Gregory in Queensland is one of the 499 locations across Australia receiving a mobile base station under round 1 of the program. Telstra is expected to commence delivering services at Gregory in 2018.

Optus has received funding under round 2 of the program to deploy a mobile satellite small cell at Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park under round 2 of the program.

(4) Adels Grove is not receiving a mobile base station under round 2 of the program.