REGION - Nationals candidate for Mallee, Andrew Broad, has thrown his support behind the funding commitment from the Coalition towards fixing telephone blackspot problems.
Mr Broad said regional communities will be able to apply for funds to fix local mobile phone blackspots, as part of a $100 million Federal Coalition commitment.
"This commitment will target areas of the Wimmera, Mildura and Mallee regions where mobile phone blackspots are having a major negative economic and social impact on communities," Mr Broad said.
"Communities such as Banyena, Dergholm, Harrow, Haven, Laharum, Lalbert, Lubeck, Navarre, Marnoo, Patchewollock, Rupanyup, Wartook and McKenzie Creek (in the Grampians), Wemen, Yaapeet and many towns and communities like them will be able to seek funding assistance from a Coalition Government to build new towers and upgrade mobile services.
"The Federal Coalition will work with communities, local councils and State Governments to deliver the improved mobile phone coverage.
"The policy will improve mobile coverage in small towns, along key transport routes, and in areas prone to natural disasters. Communities will also be able to apply for funding to address identified local mobile communication priorities, such as areas with high seasonal demand or areas where poor mobile coverage poses a significant risk to public safety."
Mr Broad said fighting to secure funds for projects such as this will be a major priority for him if elected.
"When the Rudd Government abolished the Coalition's $2.4 billion Regional Communications Fund in 2008, Labor turned its back on funding mobile phone blackspots leaving Wimmera, Mildura and Mallee communities in the lurch.
"Independent regional telecommunications reviews have clearly identified mobile phone coverage as the number one telecommunication issue in regional Australia.
"Instead of wasting billions on duplicating existing broadband services in cities, the government should concentrate on fixing mobile phone blackspots in regional areas. The Nationals have always championed regional communications," Mr Broad said.
Mr Broad said the Coalition's Mobile Phone Blackspot program also allows mobile phone network providers to seek funding assistance to upgrade coverage in black spot areas.