Victoria’s Nationals have promised to address mobile blackspots and attacked the Labor state government’s record on connecting the regions.
Opposition regions spokesman Peter Walsh said an elected Liberal National government would subsidise mobile boosters for Victorians living in areas with poor mobile and broadband coverage.
“Parts of regional Victoria has (sic) put up with second-class mobile coverage for too long, and more towers isn’t the only way to help solve this problem,” Mr Walsh said in a statement on Wednesday.
The promised rebate would be part of a $150 million program aimed at improving coverage in the regions.
The Victorian government said signal boosters would not solve regional connectivity issues.
“The suggestion that boosters will fix the connectivity gaps shows The Nationals don’t even understand the problem and are just trying to paper over the cracks left by their former colleagues in Canberra who were happy to leave regional Victorians in the dark,” it said in a statement.
“The Andrews Labor Government is improving connectivity across regional Victoria, fast-tracking better mobile coverage in about 1,000 places through our $300 million Connecting Victoria mobile program.”
The state government said it would be announcing further mobile projects in rural, regional and suburban locations across Victoria.
Mr Walsh said regional Victorians had been “short-changed” by Labor’s Connecting Victoria program and said 28 of 88 current programs were located within metropolitan Melbourne.
“Daniel Andrews was gold-plating the city to shore up votes – all at the expense of people who live in smaller towns,” he said.
The Nationals said their program would work to strengthen mobile towers to ensure connections were maintained during emergencies.
“Recently we saw Victorian communities left without mobile coverage in the Black Summer bushfires and the storms in June and October last year, this program will work to make the state’s mobile coverage more resilient,” Mr Walsh said.
In May 2021 the Victorian government announced a half-a-billion dollar spend on firefighting, of which one-quarter would go to improving signal blackspots in fire-prone areas and upgrading radios at Forest Fire Management Victoria.