The Andrews Labor Government is subsidising highly commercial mobile phone reception in Melbourne suburbs at the expense of Gippslanders still suffering from significant blackspots.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said he was astounded that Labor has allocated much of its $300 million Connecting Victoria mobile service program to city areas when country people are still crying out for decent mobile phone coverage.
While telecommunications is a Commonwealth concern, state governments in recent years have provided some subsidies to help leverage further investment from the Commonwealth and telecommunications companies in regional Victoria.
“It is just astounding that the Labor Party thinks that we need to subsidise mobile phone coverage in places like Werribee and Point Cook.
“The Minister’s announcement last week of funding for towers in Melbourne’s west is an insult to those areas of Gippsland that are still struggling for any service at all.
“To add insult to injury this taxpayer subsidy is aimed at increasing the provision of 5G services when many parts of Gippsland South don’t even have a signal.”
Mr O’Brien said the Government’s Connecting Victoria tender documents indicate a significant bias towards city areas that should be highly commercial for private companies to invest in, and taxpayer funds should be saved for those areas of country Victoria that don’t attract commercial attention.
“The Government has tender documents that indicate precincts of strategic importance to it, and these include places like Richmond, Brunswick and East Melbourne.
“This is a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money when the real need is in regional and rural Victoria. I’m on the road all the time and like many Gippslanders, I know where the blackspots are – places like Toongabbie, Flynn, Delburn, Koorooman, Foster North and Woodside Beach.
Mr O’Brien said The National’s 25 per cent Regional Infrastructure Guarantee would ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent fairly across regional areas and Melbourne.
“At the moment, Labor thinks that Victoria ends at Pakenham and its mobile phone spending is a slap in the face for those Gippslanders that can’t pick up a signal at all.
“The Nationals will ensure country people get their fair share, and we need to remember this November that Labor will only ever focus on the city.”