Local residents have missed out big-time on the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program, according to the Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell.
The Federal Government is investing $220million of Commonwealth funds across three funding rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program ($100million for round one, $60million for each of rounds two and three).
While another 36 rural and regional communities received new or improved mobile coverage from the program in September, Mr Mitchell accused the government of focusing its attention on seats held by the Liberal/National coalition.
‘‘The Black Spot Program sounded good in theory, but it’s basically delivered a pork barrel to government-held seats,’’ he said.
‘‘The last round of Black Spot has delivered 27 towers to the seat of New England ... and as you might know there’s a bloke called Barnaby Joyce who’s been sitting there illegally for a period of time.
‘‘So when I talk about this government being morally and ethically bankrupt, this is a prime example.’’
Mr Mitchell recognised Whiteheads Creek has benefited from the program, but said the fixed wireless towers around Seymour had the capacity to hold mobile phone infrastructure for the telecommunication companies and need the support, given that more than 60 per cent of McEwen electorate has been burned out in the past 10 years.
‘‘We live in a bushfire-prone area and we know that these telecommunications are vital,’’ he said.
‘‘The government’s criteria for the Black Spots were major transport routes, rural and regional areas, and prone to natural disasters ... but we received one-and-a-half towers.
‘‘The thing I think people need to do now is to continue to push their telecommunications providers and get onto their government MPs and tell them to start pulling their weight.
‘‘You’ve got National Party senators running around saying they represent the bush, but they haven’t lifted a finger to help the people of Seymour.’’