Senator fights to fix mobile phone blackspots

Thousands of Australians living in mobile phone backs spots should know in a month if their lack of coverage will get addressed by the Government’s Mobile Blackspot Program.

The issue was raised by Queensland LNP senator James McGrath during estimates hearings for the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee.

Around 6000 blackspots were nominated by the community in the hope they would be addressed by the program, but the committee was told not all of them will be fixed.

“I understand, sadly, for Queensland, we won’t get all the bids that we want so what’s going to happen to those areas who’s bids are unsuccessful?” Senator McGrath asked.

“We’re not going to cover all 6000 in this program, but the priority with those is now on the table and it will be a matter for the market to respond to that,”Dr Drew Clarke, of the Department of Communications, replied.

Senator McGrath later noted his own home was also located in a blackspot area.

“I know the frustration and inconvenience caused by poor phone signals, but my inconvenience is nothing compared to the hardships suffered by many other Queenslanders,” he said.

“It’s important that we continue to keep pushing forward to have these coverage shortcomings addressed all across Queensland, and that’s what I’m doing.

“The Mobile Blackspot Program is a great initiative and shows we are delivering on an election promise.”

The committee heard the outcome of the program is on schedule to be announced by June 30. State and territory governments have also offered to assist the program.

“It’s the public safety and social utility of mobile coverage (that) is especially important, so the program aims to extend that into areas that industry would not find economical without the subsidy in effect that is available through the program,” Dr Clarke said.