News and Views

Mobile Black Spot funding

Victorian farmers have praised a commitment from Labor to devote an extra $60 million to ridding rural and regional areas of mobile black spots if it wins Saturday 2 July 2016’s federal election.

The funding promise is equal to the Coalition’s commitment to the Federal Mobile Black Spot Program and comes after the Victorian Farmers Federation earlier pushed Labor to match the Coalition commitment.

“We’re pleased to see the Labor Party listening to people in rural areas who are frustrated by the lack of service,” VFF President Peter Tuohey said.

“Rural and regional communities account for seven per cent of Australia’s population, and we need to make sure that they receive the same quality phone service as their metropolitan counterparts.”

Mr Tuohey said the commitment of an additional $60m over the next four years was a good start, but far more was needed.

“We’re advocating a large share of the $44m being paid to Telstra to maintain pay phones should be diverted into the Mobile Black Spot Program,” Mr Tuohey said.

“Mobile black spots are a critical issue in rural areas and we need to see ongoing investment in rural telecommunications infrastructure.

“We’re talking about vital infrastructure that is essential to helping farmers run their businesses and can also save lives, so while it’s great to see both sides of politics show some commitment to the issue, the problem is far from solved.”

Results from a survey conducted in 2015 by the VFF found that many farm businesses were suffering as a result of poor mobile coverage.

The funding promise was outlined in Labor’s agriculture and regional Australia policy.

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