Phone tower promise only half-delivered

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser

Only half of the promised 34 mobile towers to fix coverage blackspots in the Great Southern region have been built.

Under the Federal Government Mobile Black Spot Program, the Great Southern region was allocated 34 mobile towers over rounds one and two, but only 17 of these towers have been built in the past two years.

The $60 million-a-year black-spot program is design to improve mobile coverage along major regional transport routes and in small communities.

But under the MBSP’s latest round, only seven WA locations were selected, none of which were in the Great Southern region.

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O’Connor MP Rick Wilson said the Federal Government prioritised other electorates in the latest round because of the big investment it had already made in O’Connor in the first two rounds.

“Under round one of the MBSP, 56 towers were allocated to O’Connor, more than any other electorate in Australia,” Mr Wilson said.

“This was complemented by another 30 towers allocated to the electorate in round two.”

Mr Wilson also noted the mobile towers’ construction took some time to begin because of contractual agreements.

“But the program is accelerating now and we’ve seen some great results in the last 12 months,” he said.

Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan said WA was being ripped off by Canberra.

“Unlike previous rounds of the program, the Federal Government did not consult the WA Gov-ernment to prioritise locations for the mobile phone towers,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“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.”

Construction of the remaining 17 mobile towers in the Great Southern region — including at Albany-Lake Grace Road, Salmon Holes, Peaceful Bay, Ocean Beach and Tindale Road in Plantagenet — is still ongoing.

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