The Hon Michael McCormack MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development
Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie
Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation
More than 600 regional mobile base stations are now live across Australia thanks to the Liberals and Nationals Mobile Black Spot Funding Program. The significance of this program was marked at the new base station at Diamond Tree in Western Australia, formally opened today by Minister for Regional Services and Deputy Nationals’ Leader Senator Bridget McKenzie and Nationals’ Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
With the fourth round of the $220 million program opening on Monday, Senator McKenzie said it was a chance to reflect on the impact The Nationals’ cornerstone policy has made across Australia.
“It would be hard to overstate just how critical digital infrastructure is to regional Australia and its future,” Senator McKenzie said.
“It’s the platform upon which so many things in our society now rest. From keeping Australians safe and emergency services connected during bushfires and natural disaster, to allowing small businesses to flourish from the kitchen table on a remote station, connectivity is vital to growing strong and prosperous regions.
“Our program is making it possible for Australians to stay connected, access education services, do business and connect with family and friends.”
Nationals’ Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said better mobile coverage was a top issue for people across rural and regional Australia.
“For years, no matter where you went we would hear how communities, businesses and farmers were crying out for better mobile coverage,” Mr McCormack said.
“So together The Nationals in opposition designed an ambitious plan to deliver the coverage country communities deserve when we got into Government.
“Five years on, the Liberal and Nationals’ Government has invested $220 million into mobile phone base stations with more than 850 funded in partnership with major carriers and around 600 now live.
“And so many communities are now seeing the reality of The Nationals’ vision to deilver the coverage the regions deserve.”
While more than 600 are now live thanks to the program, The Nationals said not one tower was ever funded by the former Labor Government.
“Not a single mobile phone base station in regional Australia was ever, nor will ever be funded under Labor. Supporting and more importantly advancing the regions is just not a priority for Labor, whereas in The Nationals, it is our only priority,” Senator McKenzie said.
“We deliver the critical infrastructure the regions deserve because we live there too and we understand how vital reliable connectivity and proper infrastructure is locally,” Mr McCormack said.
The milestone was celebrated at a new base station in Diamond Tree, Western Australia, delivered in partnership with Telstra under the program.
The milestone reflects the commitment to the rollout of base stations under the program from all levels of government and the mobile carriers Optus, Telstra and Vodafone.
Telstra Commercial Engineering Executive, Sri Amirthalingam said Telstra was proud to be working with the Federal Government to bring mobile connectivity to regional and rural Australia.
“Telstra has now delivered more than 500 mobile base stations under the Mobile Black Spot Program, and are well on the way to building our total of more than 650 under the first three rounds of the program. We have also installed around 200 Black Spot Small Cells, delivering high speed 4G data services in some small country towns where suitable Telstra infrastructure is available,” Mr Amirthalingam said.
Optus Vice President Regulatory and Public Affairs, Andrew Sheridan said the program went hand in hand with the Optus commitment to providing Australians across the country with access to reliable mobile coverage.
“Co-investing in new mobile infrastructure in areas that need it most allows us to reach more of Australia and we thank the Government for their continued support with this great initiative,” Mr Sheridan said.
Vodafone Chief Technology Officer, Kevin Millroy said Vodafone was pleased to be working to deliver 75 new mobile base stations as part of the program.
“To date, Vodafone has delivered more than 36,000 square kilometers of new external coverage to our customers, extended 4G services to more than 16,000 additional homes and businesses and added more than 1,400 kilometers of 4G connectivity along major transport routes across the country,” Mr Milroy said.
The first three rounds of the program are delivering a total of 867 base stations nationwide in partnership with the Commonwealth, State and Territoy Governments and mobile carriers.
The Government recently announced a fourth round of the program and will call for applications from the mobile industry from Monday 15 October after a hugely popular, community driven update to the Black Spot Database over the previous four weeks.