After a long and concerted campaign and much fierce lobbying, I am delighted to announce that Telstra has agreed to fast track the construction of mobile base stations in Dereel and Gellibrand, funded in part under our government’s $220m Mobile Phone Blackspots Program.
With a huge boost in mobile phone coverage to be delivered to Dereel by December and to Gellibrand by March 2017, this is a big win for these communities.
I have been a very strong local voice for the needs of towns in areas of high bushfire risk. Mobile communications is vital not just for small businesses, residents and tourists but for firefighters and other emergency service personnel.
Just yesterday in Parliament I spoke out once again on this issue, saying:
The people of Dereel deserve that base station as soon as possible. I was up there just last week, opening the new Dereel Men’s Shed. I was able to again update the community and advise the community that Telstra have put an application in to NBN Co to co-locate the base station on the NBN tower just outside of Dereel. But I say to Telstra: we need a move on. We need to make sure that those base stations go into the areas of high bushfire risk. Across the Corangamite electorate, there are many areas that are very exposed to bushfire risk. We all know about the terrible Christmas Day bushfire in Wye River and Separation Creek last year.
In June last year, our government announced $2.11m to help fund 10 Telstra base stations across Corangamite – in Apollo Bay, Barongarook, Barwon Downs, Carlisle River (active), Cape Otway, Dereel, Kawarren, Gellibrand, Steiglitz (near Meredith) and Yeodene (servicing Birregurra). As we committed prior to the last election, there will also be new mobile base stations for Birregurra, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet and Bellbrae.
I have on many occasions called on Telstra to expedite the rollout of base stations to areas of high bushfire risk. I fought exceptionally hard for the people of Dereel for better communications after they suffered a terrible bushfire in February 2013.
Late last year, after taking this issue to the Prime Minister, I was able to secure the fast tracking of the Carlisle River base station which went live in May this year.
The Turnbull Government understands the importance of mobile coverage in regional and remote areas of Australia, which is why we have allocated $220m for this program. Despite being in government for six years, Labor did not spend one dollar fixing mobile black spots.
13 September 2016