Sparks fly over mobile towers
Election candidate Shelley Payne has taken aim at the Federal Government’s mobile black spot program, calling it a “huge let-down” for communities still waiting for connectivity.
However, MP Rick Wilson hit back at the claim, saying his electorate had benefited most from the project.
After three years extending mobile coverage to reception “black spots”, the Federal Government had finished 700 of its 867 promised towers across regional Australia.
O’Connor, which stretches from Manjimup to the South Australian border, was promised 85 towers over two rounds.
Four years on from the first round, Ms Payne said seven towers in Napier, William Bay, Goongarrie, and Ravensthorpe North, Dingup, Alexander Bay and Mt Burnside were unfinished.
“This is a huge let-down for locals in these communities,” Ms Payne said. “Promises have been made ... and not kept.”
Mr Wilson rubbished the criticism and blamed the remaining tower delays on location disputes.
“We’ve struggled to find permission from either local government authorities or private landowners (for some),” he said.
“While there have been some frustrations, it’s been a wonderful program that has filled in a lot of black spots.”
Mr Wilson last week announced $300,000 in mobile black spot funding for the construction of a macro-cell tower at Cave Point Lighthouse to improve coverage near The Gap and Salmon Holes.
More than 90 per cent per cent of the electorate’s promised towers built, according to Government figures.
Hold-ups in construction nationwide were discussed at a Senate hearing last month, following the announcement of another 180 towers in a fourth round — even as towers from round one remain unbuilt.
Regional Development assistant Secretary Lachlann Paterson said most of the remaining unbuilt towers would be operational by June 30.
“We’re expecting a lot of activity as we get to the end of this financial year,” he said.
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