Member for Macedon, Mary-Anne Thomas, today joined Telstra to celebrate the switching on of a new mobile tower at Denver, which will increase mobile coverage in the area.

The tower was built under the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spots Programme (MBSP), which has seen Federal and State Governments work with telecommunications companies to increase mobile coverage in regional Australia.

The Andrews Labor Government has already invested almost $33 million in connecting 20,000 premises that previously had no or poor mobile coverage.

Within the Hepburn Shire Council, the Victorian Government has funded six towers, with towers at Eganstown, Denver, Glenlyon, Leonards Hill and Bullarto now operational.

The Victorian Government has also funded four towers in the nearby Macedon Ranges and one at Blackwood in the Moorabool Shire.

Telecommunications infrastructure is crucial for the growth, liveability and safety of regional Victorian households and businesses.

After two successful rounds of the federal program, the Andrews Labor Government announced in January that it would not take part in round 3 due to a lack of consultation and transparency from the Turnbull Government.

Instead, the $11 million allocated to mobile black spots in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 was re-directed to Labor Government’s own program – the Victorian Mobile Black Spot Project (VMBSP).

Last week the Victorian Budget 2018/19 allocated yet another $11 million to the VMBSP to fund a second round of towers, with announcements on round one locations to be made in the coming months.

This funding builds on existing commitments to co-fund 141 new mobile towers with the Federal Government, Telstra and Optus. On top of this, the Labor Government announced a separate partnership with Optus in October last year to build an additional 25 towers throughout Victoria.

The Andrews Labor Government will continue to support the eradication of mobile black spots in regional Victoria, despite the Turnbull Liberal Government abandoning its MBSP.

The 2018/19 Federal Budget revealed no additional funding for the MBSP even though thousands of regional Victorians still experience inconsistent or non-existent mobile coverage.

Only an Andrews Labor Government understands the public safety imperative and economic benefits of removing mobile blackspots.

Quotes attributable to Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas

“The Andrews Labor Government will continue to invest in better mobile coverage for rural Victorians, to put an end to the digital divide.”

“Whether it’s in people’s homes, at work or on the go, the switching on of the tower in Denver will help locals and those visiting the area stay connected.”

“It’s clear that Malcolm Turnbull has no interest in helping the people of the Hepburn Shire get better mobile coverage, but that won’t deter us from continuing to invest in regional Victoria.”