LABOR TO INVEST $245 MILLION TO IMPROVE REGIONAL CONNECTIVITY 

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $245 million to address mobile black spots, improve digital literacy and fund local projects to improve connectivity in regional communities. 

This $245 million commitment shows Labor is the party most committed to regional communications, and it forms part of our broader commitment to support local productivity, jobs and enhanced connectivity in regional Australia. Labor is also the only party with a plan to improve the NBN. 

We will work closely with industry, the States and Territories and other stakeholders to maximise the positive impact of our investments and deliver the benefits that regional communities deserve. 

Labor’s Plan for Better Regional Communications will: 

Fix more mobile black spots: Labor will allocate $160 million to deliver improved mobile coverage through two further rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program, as well as strengthening co-location and infrastructure sharing opportunities for new mobile towers funded by the program. 

Invest in local projects to address regional connectivity issues: Labor will allocate $60 million to local projects to address regional connectivity issues by working with the States and Territories, and local government and other stakeholders, to develop Connected Community Plans. This place-based approach will help identify priorities for investment in local connectivity projects and digital literacy initiatives, including in remote Indigenous communities.  

Improve data collection to support better decision-making: Labor will work with industry and regulators to develop more accurate and comparable mobile coverage maps to support policy making. We will also empower the ACCC to track capital investment in regional mobile networks, including 5G, to support policy analysis, program design and decision making to benefit regional consumers. 

Work with the States and Territories to better co-ordinate investment: Labor will work with the States and Territories to maximise co-investment opportunities in mobile and other network infrastructure; ensure that Commonwealth investment in road and rail projects incorporates a communications coverage plan where feasible; and investigate co-building of mobile network infrastructure in areas of defined need such as transport routes, where public land can be leveraged in exchange for cooperation amongst mobile network operators. 

Improve consistency of back-up power arrangements for new mobile towers located in bushfire prone areas: Labor will work with industry and consult experts on options to improve the consistency of battery back-up arrangements for new base stations built in bushfire prone areas. 

Improve Remote Indigenous Communications: Labor will provide funding to improve remote Indigenous telecommunications and broadcasting to help address digital literacy, improve access to basic services and address the digital divide in remote communities. 

Labor will also have additional regional initiatives to announce as part of this package. 

Whether it’s the NBN, digital inclusion or regional connectivity – Labor will deliver better outcomes for Regional Australia. 

This is in stark contrast to the Nationals who have been caught out by the Auditor-General for multiple failings in administering regional funding. The ANAO found 89 of 499 base stations – nearly one in five towers funded under Round 1 of the Mobile Black Spot Program – delivered no new coverage despite a cost of $28 million.  

As it stands, 31 black spot towers promised by the Liberals and Nationals after the 2013 election are yet to be delivered, and a further 71 of the 102 towers promised as 2016 election commitments are also incomplete. 

From their second-rate copper NBN, to bungling of mobile black spots delivery, the Liberals and Nationals cannot be trusted when it comes to regional communications.  

The choice at the next election could not be clearer. 

Regional Australians can have better schools, hospitals and connectivity under Labor, or bigger tax loopholes for the top end of town under the Liberals and Nationals. 

After six years of cuts and chaos within the Liberals and Nationals, our united Labor team is ready.   

TUESDAY, 30 APRIL 2019