Home Mobility Rural group slams govt over lack of funds for black spot program

A coalition fighting to improve communications services in regional Australia says it is disappointed that the Coalition Government failed to commit in the Federal Budget to funding future rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program.

The Rural Regional and Remote Communications Coalition said in a statement that improved mobile coverage was essential for the agriculture sector to become a $100 billion industry by 2030.

It was also critical for the health and economic well-being of regional communities, the statement added.

“Mobile coverage is a major problem for a lot of our members," Derek Schoen, president of the NSW Farmers Association, said.

"The government’s failure to commit additional funding to the Mobile Black Spot Program is a let-down for regional communities.”

The RRRCC said it was aware that some mobile black spot towers, which were funded under previous rounds of the Program, were yet to be built, and called on the government and industry partners to speed up its rollout.

"We are huge supporters of the Program. It is delivering for regional communities and businesses, and will continue to do so under current funding," Australian Communications Consumer Action Network chief executive Teresa Corbin said.

"However, a lack of commitment to further funding will leave many areas without mobile phone coverage. It is fair to say we are disappointed.

"‘What is needed is a long-term commitment from the federal government that this, or similar programs will continue. We will be raising this as a priority in the upcoming Federal Regional Telecommunications Review, due to kick off in the coming months."

She said the RRRCC welcomed the government’s $260 million commitment to improve GPS and satellite imagery and the $2.4 billion investment in science and technology to improve agricultural output and innovation in production.


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