Regional Communications Minister Bridget McKenzie has defended the federal government’s national program to fix mobile phone black spots following a Victorian exit.
The Victorian state Labor government has announced it will go it alone in building mobile phone towers in regional areas after dumping the commonwealth’s program.
The state government blamed the decision on the Turnbull government failing to properly consult over site choices and a lack of transparency.
Senator McKenzie defended the national program.
“We made those commitments in the federal election on areas of need for regional communities and I’m really looking forward to making sure those communities get access to that infrastructure ASAP,” she told ABC Radio.
She said places like Aireys Inlet and Anglesea in Victoria see an eight-fold increase in population from tourism over summer and the infrastructure that covers 1000 people in the district can’t support the influx.
The minister declined to say whether there would be a fourth round of funding for the program in this year’s federal budget.
Labor frontbencher Stephen Jones said the Victorian decision was an indictment of a failed program.
“In rounds one and two, 80 per cent of the locations announced were in Liberal or National Party electorates,” he said.
“Critical locations in areas of Victoria, particularly bush fire prone areas, have missed out.”
Mr Jones said round three funding was based on 2016 election promises not community needs.