THE communities of Arawata, Dumbalk, Dumbalk North, Kongwak, Mirboo, Mount Eccles, Outtrim, Sandy Point, Strzelecki, Trida and Waratah Bay can finally look forward to decent mobile coverage.
There’ll be 20 new mobile towers built in Gippsland in the next three years, and 11 will be in South Gippsland after a $100 million funding announcement last week involving the Federal Government, Telstra and Vodafone, and the State Government.
McMillan MP Russell Broadbent met ecstatic community members at Dumbalk on Friday afternoon who were celebrating after an 18 year campaign finally paid off.
They thanked Mr Broadbent for his work to improve reception in the electorate, which received more than its share of funding.
“This is a great outcome for McMillan, with a total of $8.51 million to be invested on new or improved mobile coverage in the area,” Mr Broadbent said.
“The electorate had 163 black spots nominated by local residents to be eligible for new or improved mobile coverage under the Mobile Black Spot Program, and today’s announcement will see 119 of those mobile black spots receive coverage.
“For many local communities, including Dumbalk, this will be welcome news that helps to alleviate those legitimate safety fears felt by some residents.
“It’s been a long fight, but a fruitful one in the end.”
Mr Broadbent paid tribute to the members of the local community who had driven the campaign, particularly Adrian Harris and Bev and Ed Hanley who’ve called on communications minister Malcolm Turnbull to come to Dumbalk and switch the tower on when it’s built.
South Gippsland Shire councillor Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks said announcement was a win for the community, its businesses, and its safety.
As the council’s representative of Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee, he said it was crucial that mobile phone reception was improved.
He said bushfire response and information management demanded adequate mobile reception, particularly in areas at risk including South Gippsland’s busy coastal towns.
Cr Hutchinson-Brooks said the council’s economic development coordinator Ken Fraser should be congratulated for his work with state and federal governments “to help make this happen”.
Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien paid tribute to his predecessor Peter Ryan for going “out of his way” to secure $20 million in State Government funding for the program which was delivered by the Labor Government.
Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Harriet Shing said communities right across Gippsland will benefit.
“We will see new towers built in places where locals have long advocated for better coverage. This is a real win for the region.”
Telstra Country Wide Area General Manager for Gippsland, Loretta Willaton said people and business are now relying on mobile connectivity more than ever.
“We are acutely aware of the challenges facing communities living with limited access to a mobile network.
“That is why we are excited to play an important role in delivering mobile coverage to a large number of regional communities as part of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program.”