The Abbott government has confirmed $7.6 million will be invested into the Gippsland region to address mobile black-spots as part of a nationwide campaign to improve Australia’s mobile networking.
Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, released a statement on his website shortly after the Federal Department of Communications confirmed the funding, outlining the impact the grant would have on local communities.
“$7.6 million would improve mobile phone coverage in many parts of Gippsland, which is good for industry and good for tourism,” Mr Chester said.
The Coalition has committed a total of $100 million to broaden Australia’s rural connectivity.
Mr Chester believes the upgrades would assist residents and firefighters to combat the bushfires that threaten communities each summer.
“In my submission to the Minister and during our discussions on this issue, I emphasised the need to improve coverage, which is critical in case of emergency,” Mr Chester said.
Locals would have greater access to emergency service updates from outlets such as ABC Gippsland.
Mr Chester has viewed the Government’s decision as a step forward in combating Gippsland’s connectivity issues, albeit a delayed one.
“The previous Labor Government refused to fund a mobile phone black-spots program, but I’m pleased the Coalition Government has listened to my years of lobbying on this issue,” Mr Chester said.
Locations across Australia were selected under criteria, including cost to the Commonwealth and co-financial contributions, after being nominated by an eligible Member of Parliament.
“This program is a great example of governments working together with industry to achieve a result which would not have been possible without that co-operation,” Mr Chester said.
The Federal Government expects the roll out of infrastructure to commence later this year.