Regional WA not in round three of Mobile Black Spot Program

Photo: Rob Homer.
Photo: Rob Homer.

The Esperance region is not missing out on improved communications capability despite missing out on the latest round of federal government funding, according to O’Connor MP Rick Wilson.

This comes after WA regional development minister Alannah Mactiernan lashed out at the federal government for only selecting one regional WA site for its mobile black spot funding.

“Our GST share is just the tip of the iceberg: now WA is now being ripped off by the Federal Government on mobile black spot funding,” she said.

However, a spokesperson for Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said WA received highest number of new or improved base stations in the country under the first two rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program.

“The regional electorates of O’Connor and Durack will receive 175 new mobile towers under rounds one and two of the program, this represents 23 per cent of all towers under the first two rounds,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Wilson said the Esperance and Ravensthorpe region received 16 of these towers, with work completed at nine sites.

“I’d always like to see more but the nature of that particular round was basically election commitments to those electorates that have missed out in the first two rounds,” he said.

“My feeling is that we need to substantially finish the completion of these round two towers before we announce too many more.”

Mr Wilson said he did not believe WA, or the Esperance region, were missing out on black spot funding and the priority was to finish the towers from round one and two.

“Most people would be a hell of a lot better off than they were three years ago, believe me,” he said.

WAFarmers executive officer for policy Grady Powell said the move to not include more WA towers in this third round was unacceptable.

“People living in rural and regional areas have come to expect the same level of service afforded to those living in metropolitan areas,” he said.

“To have only seven locations identified as priority areas in WA, a state which covers approximately a third of the country, is completely unacceptable.”

Mr Powell said investment into WA regional telecommunications was critical to the smooth operation of primary industry businesses.

“Access to telecommunications has become a necessity for rural businesses, with more and more agricultural technologies and machinery being reliant on efficient services to improve productivity,” he said.