The Victorian government has decided to abandon the Commonwealth Mobile Black Spot program and will use the $11 million set aside in favour of its own system.
In a statement, the Victorian government said the $11 million it planned to invest in the third round of the Commonwealth program, will now be used for its own system which will choose tower locations based on necessity rather than ‘political interests’ in regional Victoria.
“The decision to leave the Federal Government’s program is due to the Commonwealth failing to properly consult when choosing sites and a complete lack of transparency about how sites are chosen,” the statement said.
The latest round of funding builds on existing commitments to co-fund 141 new mobile towers with the Federal Government, Telstra and Optus.
This also adds to the Victorian government’s separate partnership with Optus to build an additional 25 towers, and is part of its $45 million Connecting Regional Communities program that was in the 2017/18 Victorian Budget.
“We will not compromise when it comes to community needs and safety. We’re working with Emergency Management Victoria, local councils and Regional Partnerships to get this right,” Minister for regional development, Jaala Pulford, said.
In October, the Victorian Government complained of being “short-changed” by the Federal Government’s ongoing Mobile Black Spot Program due largely to a “severe lack of consultation”.
The Victorian Government shared the cost of the new mobile towers with Optus, which revealed in July that it had set aside $1 billion towards the improvement and expansion of its mobile network in regional Australia -- part of its ongoing investment program that has seen more than $3.6 billion put into its mobile networks since 2015.