Labor’s mobile program leaving Gippsland disconnected

Under Labor’s Connecting Victoria Mobile Program it is Gippsland residents who continue to suffer from poor mobile connectivity.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath took aim at the Andrews Labor Government in State Parliament today for upgrading mobile coverage in Melbourne while Gippsland’s small towns continue to suffer from poor mobile reception.

During question time, Ms Bath demanded to know why under Labor’s Connecting Victoria Mobile Program 76 out of 97 “locations of strategic interest” are in Melbourne.

“Of the 21 regional locations that made Labor’s strategic interest list, over half are in the Labor held electorates of Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong,” said Ms Bath.

“Gippslanders deserve to know why they struggle to receive one bar of 3G when the Andrews Government is prioritising 5G for Melburnians.

“It is evident that the Andrews Government’s Connecting Victoria Mobile Program doesn’t apply to all Victorians, especially those living in our rural towns east of Pakenham.

“Communities like Toongabbie, Cowwarr and Glengarry continue to suffer with dodgy connectivity, while suburbs like Richmond, Brunswick and Broadmeadows are prioritised to receive a gold standard service under Daniel Andrews.”

Ms Bath said there is legitimate concern that inferior mobile service has the potential to impact emergency response in the event of bushfire, flood or road trauma.

“Speaking with Toongabbie CFA Captain, Scott Mitchell, he is highly concerned that the town’s woeful service will fail the community during emergency events, ending in tragedy,” said Ms Bath.

“The Andrews Labor Government said it would ‘help more regional Victorians get connected’, but it’s failing dismally.”

When responding to Ms Bath, the Minister for Digital Connectivity, Jaala Pulford said that the Andrews Government had “conducted a detailed analysis where digital connectivity is insufficient” to pick locations that made Labor’s strategic priority list.

Ms Bath said one would think that an area of strategic importance would be any rural town in an identified bushfire zone who rely on technology as a matter of life or death – it’s imperative they can receive instantaneous alerts from VicEmergency.

“Minister Pulford explained that each ‘G’ in telecommunications represents a 10-years in technology.

“Toongabbie, Cowwarr and Glengarry are three such towns stuck with an intermittent 3G service, showing the Andrew Government is happy to leave these Gippsland towns 20 years behind Melbourne when it comes to connectivity.

“Our rural and regional Gippsland towns with 3G reception must be immediately prioritised by the Andrews Government for a communications upgrade, instead of being stuck with old and outdated technology.”