Mobile blackspots

Mr PURCELL (Western Victoria) (20:32:50) — My adjournment matter tonight is for Minister Dalidakis, the Minister for Trade and Investment, and the action I seek is for the minister to visit south-western Victoria to discuss mobile black spots and towers with local residents. We have had a lot of promises in regard to mobile black spots and towers in Western Victoria Region, particularly south-western Victoria and some of the areas that are not heavily populated. These are very important areas for coverage, particularly because every year we have a number of bushfires and people need mobile coverage for safety in those, but even more so in regard to medical emergencies, the education needs of students who live in the areas and for people who want to work from home, which is more and more common in western Victoria.

The other reason I am inviting the minister to come down is we need him to consult with our community. We have had issues where in particular Telstra, and to a lesser degree Optus, have decided where they want towers to go. There was one case last year that I got involved in where Telstra wanted to put a tower on the edge of Tower Hill. The issue with that is that Tower Hill is one of the major tourist attractions there and they forgot to ask the community what they thought. When the community found out they were up in arms and we got involved — and we actually got that stopped. Telstra said, 'That's great, but what it means is you probably won't get a tower', so we need to make sure that the tower is in place, but we do not need it where it should not be.

The government have on a number of occasions said that they are going to build mobile towers in our area. Last year Minister Dalidakis said that those living in regional Victoria deserve to have mobile coverage, and he listed some areas where he said he was going to have towers in place by the end of this year. In my area this includes Winslow, Woolsthorpe and Hawkesdale. I thought I would check with the manager, Mr Haddock, 5 minutes ago, and he said mobile coverage has not changed; it is still very poor and sketchy. We heard last year that they were maybe going to do something with the Optus tower, but nothing has happened.

I would just like Mr Dalidakis to come down and explain to the community what is going on and what we are going to finish up with in regard to mobile towers and coverage for mobile services.