Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, is encouraging residents to nominate mobile phone black spot locations in their area to help inform the rollout of the next round of the government’s $220 million Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP).
Minister for Regional Services, Senator Bridget McKenzie, today invited Federal and State Members of Parliament and local councils to make submissions on behalf of their constituents to the national mobile black spot database.
Mr Joyce said the database is open for four weeks and called for all residents to contact his office to nominate mobile black spot areas of concern.
“We have 37 new and upgraded mobile base stations already being rolled out in the New England but we can always do more and I strongly encourage residents across the electorate to contact my office as soon as possible to nominate further coverage shortfalls in our communities,” Mr Joyce said.
“This presents a real opportunity for people across the electorate, from Deepwater to Danglemah, no matter where they live, to have their say on problem mobile black spots and spur on mobile operators to invest in our area through the program.
The National Rural Health Alliance welcomed the announcement.
The Alliance feels reducing black spots is the next step in providing improved connectivity between remote and regional communities and the delivery of digital health services to these areas.
Alliance CEO, Mark Diamond, said the delivery of health services to rural and remote towns and communities largely depended on a fully connected digital network that could provide the vital interface between consumers and health care providers.
“Without a properly connected and cohesive network, the delivery of health services will remain piecemeal and deprive people and families in the bush of access to today’s modern health care services,” Mr Diamond said.
“Our member organisations are out there every day delivering these health services - improvements in the delivery of digital health services are vital. Rural communities and the health workforce need the infrastructure that large towns and cities have.
“The Commonwealth’s Black Spot Program is the only program we have to make sure that the most isolated communities can benefit from technological advances in biometric monitoring, tele-rehabilitation and telehealth services to supplement face to face access to healthcare in the bush.”
Mr Joyce said the nominations will support round four of the program which will look to provide new or improved mobile coverage in areas where there are clear economic and social benefits.
“Round four will also look to target medical, educational and emergency services facilities, as well as along key transport routes and in towns that experience seasonal demand due to tourism,” he said.
The federal government will invest $25 million to deliver round four of the program and will soon call for applications from carriers to be selected through a competitive process. They are also calling for nominations from state and territory governments.
Residents submitting new black spots are requested to provide contact information, which will not be publically available, and the exact location details of the black spot including the latitude and longitude if known.