The Auditor-General has announced that a formal audit has commenced into Round 6 of the Mobile Black Spot Program.
Under this Round of the Program, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland personally hand-picked every site to receive funding.
Minister Rowland selected Labor electorates for 74% of funding grants in the Round, despite Labor representing only 1/3 of regional electorates. In New South Wales and Victoria, a staggering 100% of grants were given to Labor electorates.
The ANAO had previously advised that Round 6 of the Mobile Black Spot Program had been included in its list of potential performance audits as part of it Works Program for 2023-24. Now it has confirmed that it has commenced an audit and is due to report its findings by May 2024.
“There are three words to describe the Government’s conduct on this matter: dodgy, dodgy and dodgy,” Mr Coleman said.
“What person could possibly think that 100% of the need for mobile coverage in NSW and Victoria was in Labor electorates? The Minister’s decision to allocate funds in this way is outrageous. Many communities in non-Labor electorates were completely ignored by Minister Rowland, despite being in desperate need of improved mobile coverage.”
Mr Coleman said that the full rigour of an Auditor-General examination was needed to get to the bottom of this sordid saga.
“Australians want to know how on earth this has happened. The Auditor-General’s forensic skills will be crucial in understanding exactly what has gone on within the Albanese Government. For Minister Rowland, the walls are closing in.”
The Hon. David Coleman MP
Federal Member for Banks
Shadow Minister for Communications