Seeing red on black spots
WA has been short-changed in the latest round of Mobile Black Spot Funding, drawing criticism from Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan.
The $60 million-a-year black-spot program, driven by the Federal Government, aims to improve mobile coverage along major regional transport routes, in small communities and in priority locations.
But only seven WA locations were selected of 106 available nationwide in the latest round, announced last week.
Of these, just one — Serpentine/Keysbrook — is in a regional area. The other six, Bickley, Bullsbrook, Chidlow, Parkerville, Swan Valley and Lake Clifton, are on the urban fringe.
The WA Government contributed more than $53 million to the program over the past three years — $20 million more than the next highest contributing State.
Ms MacTiernan said like the GST share, WA was being ripped off by Canberra. Unlike previous rounds of the program, the Federal Government did not consult the WA Government to prioritise locations for the mobile phone towers.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to take an open and transparent look at WA’s needs on mobile spots and to stump up a fairer share for our State,” Ms MacTiernan said.
WAFarmers policy officer Grady Powell said access to telecommunications had become a necessity for rural businesses, with more and more agricultural technologies and machinery relying on efficient servicesJU to improve productivity and profitability.
“It also underpins basic communications such as the ability to make emergency calls, access education and interact socially,” Mr Powell said.
“Moving forward, we need a commitment from the Federal Government that it will consult with the State Government on future program funding so that WA’s telecommunications needs can be improved and met,” he said.
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