INTO THE VOID: Regional phone coverage has become a battleground in the Wide Bay election after Senate estimates revealed five sites had still not been delivered.
INTO THE VOID: Regional phone coverage has become a battleground in the Wide Bay election after Senate estimates revealed five sites had still not been delivered. Pixabay

Scanes, O'Brien fire shots over Wide Bay's phone dead zones

MOBILE phone dead zones have become the latest battleground in the Wide Bay election, amid revelations five promised base stations have not yet been delivered.

Labor candidate Jason Scanes accused the LNP of failing to keep its promises with a number of the region's stations funded but not yet operational, but Nationals candidate Llew O'Brien fired back at the ALP's own track record.

It was revealed in Senate estimates this month the stations at Cootharaba Rd, Wide Bay Highway and Cinnabar, Wide Bay Highway and Kilkivan-Goomeri, Boreen Point and Poona were still unfinished.

Mr Scanes called the situation "a huge let-down”.

Australian Labor Party candidate for Wide Bay Jason Scanes.
Jason Scanes. Josh Preston

"Promises have been made by the Morrison Government to residents in Wide Bay and not kept,” he said.

Labor's regional communications spokesman Stephen Jones said these were part of a wider 20 per cent of promised base stations still not on the air.

"Given these delays, it is baffling that the Morrison Government is pushing ahead with a further round of the program when base stations from round four are barely settled.

"Locals should be on notice that any promises made now by the Morrison Government will not be delivered for two to three years, or longer.

phone generic mobile phone smartphone girl
Mobile phone coverage is becoming a federal battleground. Max Pixel

"Nearly 20 per cent of mobile base stations from rounds one, two and three and 100 per cent of base stations from round four are not yet operational, raising doubts about Minister McKenzie's claims that all base stations under the first three rounds will be operational by June 30.”

Nationals Wide Bay candidate Llew O'Brien said Labor's record in delivering mobile phone coverage to the regions was "appalling”.

"When Labor last came to office it abolished a $2 billion regional communications fund that was purposefully designed by the former Howard Government to improve communications in regional communities,” he said.

Llew O'Brien at the Coondoo creek on Tin Can Bay rd.
Llew O'Brien. Renee Albrecht

"The former Labor Government did nothing to improve mobile phone coverage in Wide Bay during its six years in office.

"In the time since then Bill Shorten's Labor has failed to commit to any new mobile phone base stations in Wide Bay. None. Zero. Zilch.”

He said there were several reasons the delivery of towers had been delayed.

These included "weather events, site acquisition and planning delays, and reliance on third parties such as power authorities to complete work on time”.

"Under the conditions of the Mobile Phone Black Spot Program, all base stations that have been announced for Wide Bay under the first three rounds, including Poona, Wide Bay Highway - Oakview, Wide Bay Highway - Cinnabar, Boreen Point, and Cootharaba, will be operational by June 30, 2019,” he said.

"In contrast, the Liberal and Nationals Government has committed to 17 sites in Wide Bay.”