Opinion

Eliminate black spot bias

by
January 11, 2018

If the Victorian Government wishes to ditch the Federal Government’s mobile phone black spot program — so be it.

If the Victorian Government wishes to ditch the Federal Government’s mobile phone black spot program — so be it.

But we do expect improved results from any replacement scheme.

Consumers would not be too fussy whichever tier of government delivers funding — as long as the funds are delivered and the service is improved.

In our backyard, Katandra West mobile phone users would be grateful for any improvement, having lived for years with unreliable service and then missing out on black spot funding just more than a year ago.

Residents at that time said they were ‘‘sick and tired’’ of years of poor coverage.

So we hope the Victorian Government’s decision to leave the federal program and set up its own scheme will improve the lives of regional Victorians such as the good people of Katandra West.

We also hope the issue is not about to be treated as a political football — with the state Labor government accusing federal Liberals of delivering funds to black spots based on political interest, rather than need.

On the face of it, the Victorian Government has a point. Out of the Federal Government’s chosen 109 ‘‘priority locations’’, 16 sites are in Victoria, and all are in Coalition-held electorates.

Across the country, 24 of the 109 locations were in marginal non-government seats.

But the Federal Government has said the chosen sites had been overlooked previously.

Fair enough.

At the end of the day, phone users in regional areas just want connectivity.

Who is to say the Andrews Government’s choice of mobile phone tower locations will not also be subject to bias?

Judging one community’s needs over another must be fraught with difficulties.

The only people to be truly competent and objective must surely be the technical experts.

Perhaps the choice of locations should be entrusted to an independent body with as little political involvement as possible.

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