A recent Australian National Audit Office report has condemned the effectiveness of the federal government’s mobile black spot program, however, the tower installed in Blackwood is doing wonders for the community, according Moorabool Shire Council mayor Allan Comrie.
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In its most critical finding, the ANAO found one in five of the mobile phone towers funded in the first round of the program provided little to no new coverage for consumers.
"The criteria used by the department to assess the merits of each proposed base station did not sufficiently target funding toward the expansion of coverage where coverage had not previously existed," the ANAO writes in the report earlier in the month.
"As a consequence, public funding has resulted in substantial consolidation of existing coverage provided by grant applicants, as opposed to extending coverage in new areas - a key objective for the program."
Despite the damning report, Moorabool Shire Council mayor Allan Comrie said the Blackwood station plays a significant role during fire season by increasing cell service.
“It’s doing a great job,” he said.
“They’re (local residents) really loving it, they couldn’t be happier. “They’re happy now (with reception), they love it.
“But there are still black spots, even areas like Bacchus Marsh have black spots for some unknown reason.”
Meanwhile Ballarat MP Catherine King has has urged communities to maintain pressure on the federal government to eliminate mobile black spots across the region.
“While we have secured a number of new towers across the region, there are still many holes in the mobile coverage and this is a continuing concern,” Ms King said.
“This $220 million program is supposed to improve public safety and expand mobile phone coverage across Australia. So far it has fallen short here as it has in many places, although we have done better than some.”
A station is scheduled to be built in the notorious black spot area of Dereel to Ballarat’s south, while stations have been funded in Eganstown, Leonards Hill, Bullarto, Lyonville and Glenylon near Daylesford.
Works are yet to start on the Glenlyon tower as it awaits a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing next February.
The highly anticipated second round of funding should be announced by the end of the year.
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