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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 2008

Mobile Black Spot Program

(Question No. 860)

Mr Stephen Jones asked the Minister representing the Minister for Regional Communications, in writing, on 04 December 2017

(1) In respect of Mr Paterson's claim that there was $2.1 million in unspent Commonwealth funding for Telstra under Round 1 of the Mobile Black Spots Program (see Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Estimates, 24 May 2017, page 102), what sum of unspent funding currently exists for each carrier under each round of the Mobile Black Spots Program.

(2) Has any of this unspent funding been allocated to other base stations since 24 May 2017; if so, (a) what sum, and (b) which stations.

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

(1) Under the Mobile Black Spot Program, each funding agreement with the carriers sets a funding cap for the agreement. The agreements also include mechanisms to enable any savings achieved under the program during the rollout to be retained in unspent pools.

If agreed, these savings can be used to fund additional base stations, meet overspends at other base stations or returned to the Commonwealth at the end of the program. Any material cost increases to a base station requires Commonwealth approval on a discretionary basis.

As per these arrangements, the carriers have used some savings to meet increased costs at other base stations.

The reported amounts in the unspent pools represents the net savings achieved during the rollout i.e. total savings less any additional build costs.

At 24 May 2017, the Commonwealth's component of the unspent pool for Telstra under round 1 was $2.1 million.

As at 14 February 2018, the latest figures currently project the Commonwealth's component of the unspent pools for each carrier under rounds 1 and 2 at:

Telstra: $4.1 million

Optus: $0.06 million

Vodafone: No savings

(2) (a) and (b) As at 14 February 2018, no funding from the unspent pools has been allocated to additional base stations under the Mobile Black Spot Program.