Statement from Sarah Henderson Member for Corangamite: I am thrilled to announce some wonderful news for Golden Plains communities. Under the Coalition government’s $100m Mobile Phone Black Spots Programme, new mobile phone base stations will be built servicing a large number of towns across the Golden Plains. Coverage along ColacBallarat Road will also be improved.
Communities in and around Golden Plains including Bannockburn, crimes in many ways. One woman Maryann Talia Pau began weaving stars. Now, her movement to increase people’s awareness of violence against all women has spread. Her message has been to shed light on this issue through love not hate by the weaving of one million stars.
An invitation has been extended to everyone to make stars with the goal to create 33,150 3 times 3350 stars (Ballarat’s postcode 3350 times the 3 years of the million stars project) and have these displayed in a public place by December Cape Clear, Dereel, Lethbridge, Meredith, Maude, Mount Mercer, Rokewood, Scarsdale, Shelford, Steiglitz and Teesdale are set to benefit from increased coverage. One of the most important locations in the rollout is, of course, Dereel where a new base station will be constructed. Another base station will be built at Steiglitz outside Meredith. After campaigning so hard on this issue over a number of years, I am extremely proud that our government is delivering this vital communications infrastructure. This is very exciting news. I want to commend the many communities, organisations and local residents who have joined with me in advocating for this vital investment. As we know Dereel was devastated by bushfire in March 2013 which burnt 1300 hectares and destroyed 16 homes.
In times of emergency, mobile phone coverage is vital. And in Dereel, I joined with the community to fight for better mobile coverage. In my maiden speech in Federal Parliament in November 2013, I said: In March this year, the small township of Dereel in the northern part of the electorate was hit by bushfire. Sixteen homes were lost in this notorious mobile phone black spot, which to date has not been remedied. With telephone lines down, there was no way of calling for help. I am extremely proud of our $100 million commitment to fix mobile phone black spots, which reflects a genuine care for country people. So I say to the people of Dereel and to communities like Gellibrand, Birregurra and Rokewood: we are listening. I have discussed the need for communications investment with so many concerned locals, and strongly advocated to the Minister for Communications on their behalf.
In total, as a result of this investment, 115 of the 141 mobile black spots nominated in Corangamite will be fixed, in whole or in part, by handheld or external antenna coverage (or both). Our commitment is wiping out literally dozens of black spots.
The total joint funding for Corangamite is $8.27m, including $2.11m from the Federal Government. This investment is in stark contrast to the previous Federal Labor government which did not spend a cent on mobile phone communications in six years.
The $100m Programme has successfully leveraged significant co-contributions from State and local Governments, mobile carriers and third party organisations, bringing the total funding amount to over $385m including $21m from the Victorian Government. Our government has sent a very strong message: country communities matter. In more good news, our government will deliver another $60m for a second round of the Mobile Phone Blackspots Programme. I will continue to advocate for those communities which need further investment and look forward to construction beginning on these mobile base stations at the earliest opportunity.