The Andrews Labor Government is subsidising highly commercial mobile phone reception in Melbourne suburbs at the expense of western Victorians still suffering from significant blackspots.
Member for Lowan and deputy Nationals leader Emma Kealy said she was astounded that Labor had 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 responsibility, 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 western Victoria and the Mallee 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 western Victoria and the Mallee don’t even have a signal.”
Ms Kealy 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 which includes 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 other western Victorian residents, I know where the blackspots are – places like Langkoop, Wickliffe, Halls Gap, Laharum and Brimpaen.
Ms Kealy 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 our local residents, with many unable to pick up a signal at all.
“The Nationals will ensure country people get their fair share – we need to remember this November that Labor will only ever focus on the city.”