Parkes MP Mark Coulton has attacked the Labor government on mobile blackspot funding, claiming 25 out of 26 new grants under the Improving Mobile Coverage Round of the Mobile Black Spots Program have gone to Labor electorates.
“I was truly disappointed to see that regional communities of Western NSW have been left out in the latest round of Mobile Blackspot funding,” the Nationals MP for Parkes wrote in his Barrier Truth column – see page 8.
“Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has chosen Labor electorates for 25 out of 26 available grants in New South Wales under the Improving Mobile Coverage Round of the Mobile Black Spots Program,” says the MP.
But Minister Rowland hit back, telling us, “I’m proud to belong to an Albanese government that is improving connectivity in rural and regional Australia by substantially increasing funding for regional communications.
“The October Budget delivered $2.2 billion in funding for regional communications over five years, including $480 million for NBN’s Fixed Wireless Network expansion and upgrade. This is compared to approximately $1.3 billion in the previous Liberal-National Government’s Budget.”
Mr Coulton says, “it’s unbelievable to me that some of the areas which need it most have been completely left out of this funding. None of the funding has gone into seats like Farrer, Riverina, or Parkes – not a cent. These areas cover roughly 70 per cent of NSW.
“All regional communities deserve a chance and Labor needs to stop playing politics because mobile coverage, especially in the Far West, is a major safety issue,” Mr Coulton said.
Minister Rowland suggested Mark Coulton may be linking the Improving Mobile Coverage Round (IMCR) and the Mobile Black Spot Program – two different funding programs.
“Our Budget Plan includes $400 million to expand mobile coverage and improve communications resilience,” said Ms Rowland, ”including by investing in future rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program.
“The entirely separate Improving Mobile Coverage Round fulfils commitments the government took to the 2022 Federal Election to address mobile coverage issues in identified areas across the country,” Ms Rowland said.
“The Albanese government is committed to expanding mobile coverage and improving broadband through our Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia. Our Budget Plan includes $400 million to expand mobile coverage and improve communications resilience, including by investing in future rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program. The Plan also includes $200 million to fund place-based communications solutions through additional rounds of the Regional Connectivity Program.
“These application-based programs will open in the coming months, and I strongly encourage local residents and councils to work with telcos to secure local funding.”
You can find out more about these programs and when applications open by clicking the link below.