• Hannah Phillips

Black Spot Funding is Great for the Regions


The Prime Minister visited the critical seats of Indi and Farrer on Tuesday and announced additional black spot funding that would provide communications towers for 1 million square miles of outback Australia. People in the bush have been crying out for connectivity and the prevalence of black spots is a sore point including in the electorates he visited.Scott Morrison announced a commitment of $380 million to the Mobile Black Spot Program, to be invested in telecommunications infrastructure to improve mobile coverage and competition across Australia. This includes $160.0 million in new funding for rounds 5 and 6 of this highly successful program, announced by the Minister for Regional Communications, Senator Bridget McKenzie on 20 March 2019 as part of the Government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.This Program is supported by co-contributions from state and local governments, mobile network operators (Optus, Telstra and Vodafone), businesses and local communities. At the moment the programme for the roll out of stages five and six of the programme are underway. The funding will underwrite additional stages that will ensure total mobile coverage of most of Australia by 2025.There is a certain amount of misinformation being spread about the extent of the coverage at the moment. The independent candidate for Farrer, Kevin Mack, claimed that there were only 14 towers in that electorate, which is one of the largest in Australia. This ignored the fact that there were 22 towers built in the electorate during the Howard Government years and there are currently 4 more under construction.There is also a misconception that once a tower is built there will be complete services for everybody but it is up to the private providers whether they put base stations on the towers. The truth is that Telstra has base stations just about everywhere and Optus coverage is nearly as extensive but Vodaphone is not as pervasive in the bush.However the role of this communications network cannot be underestimated. When the 5G network is rolled out it will provide connections for all the communications services a regional business or household needs. This will revolutionise connection and integration in the country and hopefully provide the people who live there with service delivery that is equivalent to that available in the city.Information is important, as this election has shown. Focus groups convened by Nine Media in the last week have shown voters have no idea what the current election is about. They recognise that Labor stands for higher taxes and that the Coalition is opposed to stronger measures on climate change but they are completely ignorant of any positive policies the parties have announced.In addition the Essential Poll released on Tuesday shows that 39% of voters have very little interest in the election and 10% have no idea who they are going to vote for. The frightening thing is that this 10% will be the cohort who decides the election in 10 days’ time. There is clearly a communications breakdown between the politicians and the public. Neither group is listening to the other. There is a need for a communications breakthrough.Black Spot Funding is Great for the Regions


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