What is the long-term plan for mobile phone coverage?
Posted May 09, 2018
Cathy has today asked the Prime Minister to outline his Government's plan to deliver mobile phone coverage to regional Australia.
Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:17): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, as you know, my community has benefited from 38 new towers under the Mobile Black Spot Program, and you tell us that the government's role is to develop a long-term plan. My question is: what is the long-term plan to deliver mobile phone coverage to regional Australia? Unfortunately, the budget overlooks the challenge of mobile connectivity in regional areas. There's no commitment for future rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program. So, Prime Minister, what is your message to the 200-plus communities in Indi and the rest of regional Australia that will be forced to go without this essential service?
Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:17): I want to thank the honourable member for the acknowledgement she's made of the very effective deployment of new base stations in her electorate addressing mobile phone black spots. The government understands very keenly the importance of mobile coverage in regional and remote areas, and that's why we've delivered $220 million to fix those black spots. I remind the honourable member and other honourable members that, despite being in government for six years, the Labor Party did not spend a single dollar on improving mobile coverage—not one dollar in six years.
A total of 502 base stations have been completed across rounds 1 and 2 already, with more stations under construction and on the way. I'm pleased to advise the House that the outcomes of round 3 were announced last month, and so that will see the delivery of an additional 102 new mobile base stations. The honourable member is thrilled that her electorate of Indi has been a big beneficiary of the program, with 26 towers completed across the electorate and 12 more on the way. That's over $8 million in federal government investment and a total investment in her electorate in these towers of $34 million.
I can also advise the House that the Regional Telecommunications Review has been brought forward, and the minister has asked it to hand down its recommendations to the government before the end of the year. The outcomes of the review will show how regional communications look in the future. It will provide direction on where we need to focus our efforts to ensure contemporary communications in regional and rural Australia. So we're committed to fixing the mobile black spots. I want to congratulate the ministers—Senator McKenzie and Senator Fifield—for their strong leadership in delivering more towers and more coverage right across the country.