Nash hits back over mobile black spot claims

NSW Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash

NSW Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash has hit back hard at claims made by Opposition spokesman for regional services Stephen Jones about the government’s mobile phone black spot program priority location list.

Mr Jones called the program a “political plaything,” said the government had abandoned need as a method of ranking black spots, and pointed out that three times as many government priority locations were in in Coalition electorates.

Tumut is number 27 on the government’s list.

Mr Jones added: “following on from the myriad of flaws in the design and administration of this program identified by the ANAO (Australian National Audit Office) last year, it seems that the Minister has put it in the “too hard” basket.”

Ms Nash begs to differ.

“It is the Coalition which is delivering a tower to Tumut and Labor who has never delivered, nor even promised, a tower,” Ms Nash said.

“The Coalition is delivering 765 mobile towers. Labor has never delivered a single tower nor invested a single cent in mobile coverage.

“Labor’s Stephen Jones has blatantly verballed the Australian National Audit Office report into the Coalition’s Mobile Black Spots Program.

“The ANAO report clearly says the Department of Communications chose the successful tower sites for Rounds 1 and 2 based on best value for money and the Minister accepted every recommendation without change.

“The report also clearly states the Coalition holds the vast majority of regional seats so it’s logical Coalition seats would receive more towers from the program.

“Mr Jones needs to respect the intelligence of the people of Tumut.

“He has invented a promise in order to claim the imaginary promise was broken. There was never a promise of a “competitive process” to select priority locations – if the telcos had again picked their own sites in a competitive process, Tumut could well have missed out again.

“The Australian National Audit Office of Round 1 of the Coalition’s MBSP found: ‘the eligibility requirements outlined in the guidelines were applied fairly, with all assessments appropriately documented…  key decisions… were conducted by the department in accordance with the guidelines’.”