Twenty-year tower triumph

Member for Riverina and now Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack (centre, with tie) with Goobarragandra Valley residents including Tony Keremelevski (to his left, holding maps) in 2014.

The passionate 20-year campaign of a Goobarragandra Valley resident has finally paid dividends with a satellite small cell base station to provide mobile coverage in the notorious black spot.

Valley resident Tony Keremelevski campaigned tirelessly for the service for two decades, and is naturally stoked with the outcome.

“I am absolutely delighted,” he said.

“It is long overdue and I wasn’t going to let up.”

He’s not alone in his delight.

“People here are so happy; some have even been shedding tears.”

Mr Keremelevski started lobbying politicians and authorities 20 years ago about the issue, citing safety in the one-road-in, one-road-out area as a reason for it.

Five years ago, Mr Keremelevski got in touch with Member for Riverina and now Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack (Tumut was in the seat of Riverina then) about getting mobile service.

“I found that he was a genuine person,” he said.

In January 2014, Mr McCormack visited the Valley and spoke to Keremelevski and other residents.

“We put in a submission supported by the SES, RFS and Ambulance,” he said.

“It failed in the first round, and in the second round, but Michael made sure it was perpetual, so it wouldn’t be discarded. It eventually succeeded in round three. Even when we were no longer in Riverina, Michael continued to help us.”

“The Goobarragandra Valley is located in an area where there is limited or no access to existing network infrastructure,” Mr McCormack said.

“To address this issue, Telstra has been awarded funding under round three of the Mobile Black Spot Program to deploy a satellite small cell base station to the area.

“Planning for the Goobarragandra Valley satellite small cell base station has commenced, with construction and completion of the base station currently scheduled for quarter four of 2018.”

Mr McCormack said that he had made a commitment to Mr Keremelevski to do what he could.

He believes that as well as the obvious importance of residents being able to contact emergency services, the Valley is a tourist drawcard, especially in summer, and therefore the service makes good sense.

“Tony has been a tireless campaigner for this, and he has shown what can happen when you don’t give up,” he said.

“I am looking forward to going up there to visit them.”