Less than 24 hours after calling out Labor’s failure to confirm the Peri-Urban Mobile Program (PUMP), once again Minister Rowland has deceptively cut and pasted Coalition policy and branded it as Labor’s own.

It was only after touring the Casey electorate with Liberal MP Aaron Violi yesterday – where two PUMP sites are located in Silvan and Menzies Creek – that the Labor Government confirmed it would honour the Coalition’s announcement to deliver PUMP funding for 66 mobile base stations across the country.

Federal Member for Longman, Terry Young, wrote to the minister seeking urgent advice as to delivery of PUMP projects in his electorate.

I congratulate Liberal and Nationals MPs and senators for being such strong advocates for this program. In May 2021, the Coalition Government announced the $16.4 million PUMP program to support better mobile connectivity in areas where the bush meets the edges of the suburbs, creating bushfire risks for those living and working in those areas.

The 66 successful PUMP projects were selected through an independent and competitive assessment, with funding awarded based on the coverage outcomes provided by each solution.

A further $78.5 million was committed by our government for projects that address mobile phone and connectivity issues in outer urban and urban fringe areas, under the Connecting Regional Australia initiative. Eligibility for this future funding was also expanded beyond the major capital cities, to include the urban fringe of other major urban areas including Geelong, Wollongong, Gosford, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Townsville, Cairns, Darwin and Canberra.

Recent fires and other natural disasters including floods have shown the importance of reliable mobile services during extreme events. Delivering the projects through this Program will improving mobile connectivity in these areas, allowing communities to receive vital information during emergencies, seek help if needed and stay in touch with loved ones.

The government must confirm the timeframes for delivering each of the 66 PUMP projects, including when work will commence, and the estimated date for when each site will be switched on.

Labor must also match the $78.5 million pledge by the Coalition to expand the PUMP program to outer urban and urban fringe areas.

While our government’s Mobile Black Spot Program delivered more than 1000 of 1,270 mobile base stations across Australia, by contrast, Labor never delivered a single mobile tower in rural and regional Australia.

Labor has no credibility when it comes to delivering communications for rural and regional communities.

22 July 2022