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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 13911

Mayo Electorate: Telecommunications


Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (15:07): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Regional Communications. On 15 October last year the government called for applications for round 4 of the Mobile Black Spot Program. My community has more than 130 nominated blackspots and we nominated many for this round. The Department of Communications and the Arts website says the construction phase for round 4 will start early this year. Can the minister tell the House when the successful submissions for round 4 will be announced? And will the minister commit to a round 5?


Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Families and Social Services) (15:07): I thank the member for her question and for her interest in the Mobile Black Spot Program, which, of course, has been one of the signature achievements of our Liberal-National government.

Regrettably, when we came to government we inherited a situation in which there had been continuous neglect of the public policy imperative of mobile communications for the entirety of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. The total amount of public money committed by the former Labor government to supporting mobile communications in regional and remote Australia was how much? It was zero! Zero—not one dollar was committed by our political opponents to support the provision of mobile communications around Australia.

I'm pleased to say that since we have come to government that situation has been turned around dramatically. We've had multiple rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program and, as at 31 January this year, 667 base stations have been activated. And this is a very interesting statistic: across 292 Telstra base stations in operation for 12 to 24 months, there have been more than 17,200 triple 0 emergency calls. You could not find a more powerful demonstration of the importance of this investment we have made, which is saving lives in regional and remote Australia as well as, of course, underpinning the vibrant economic activity in regional and remote Australia, where the communications infrastructure is such an important enabler. And what did Labor do about it for six years? They did nothing! They did absolutely nothing.

Our government has committed $220 million in funding for the Mobile Black Spot Program. The first three rounds of the program are funding the delivery of 867 mobile base stations across Australia, and in October last year we released program guidelines for round 4, which provides a further $25 million towards mobile coverage solutions in regional and remote Australia. So I say to the member: thank you for your interest; we are getting on with delivering solutions to mobile black spots around Australia.