Subjects: Cottage Point Mobile Phone Tower, Mobile Black Spot Program
Chris O’Keefe: I just don’t understand how the money was issued or granted for this phone tower back in 2020 and still it is not built. Well David Coleman, the Shadow Communications Minister, he was part of the former Government. He’s on the line, Mr. Coleman, what’s going on?
David Coleman: Well, Chris, I would be absolutely ropeable if I was in Cottage Point. This should have been resolved by now. And Jason Falinski got the money some time ago when he was the local member. The telcos have had access to that money for some time. Bottom line is, it’s a Federal program, it’s Federal funding, there is a Federal Minister Michelle Rowland, and she just needs to get everyone together this week and make this happen, because it’s just absurd that it’s gone on for this long.
Chris O’Keefe: Can you believe it, that they have an ecological report to pull out one tree in a national park?
David Coleman: Well, and obviously, there are some really serious safety issues in terms of emergency services and people not being able to access mobile technology. And it’s not a nice-to-have in 2023. It’s absolutely essential, and that’s why we provided the money for it. And Michelle Rowland in Round 6 of the Mobile Black Spot Program, personally selected every single location, so has been very deeply involved in this program. This is a Round 5 project and she just needs to get everyone together and get it done. And I’ll be the first to say, ‘well done’ if she does it, because it just needs to happen. And people – you have small businesses over there who obviously are struggling to actually run their business, you’ve got issues with emergency services, you’ve got issues with kids doing online learning and so on, which basically you can’t do. And that’s why Jason was such a strong fighter on this issue. And it just needs to happen.
Chris O’Keefe: I just don’t understand why it’s so difficult.
David Coleman: Yeah, well look, it seems like there’s obviously been a bunch of issues with Councils and different sites and so on …
Chris O’Keefe: But is it time that the Federal Government commandeers this whole thing and just tells Telstra, Ausgrid, Council, National Parks, ‘hey guys, forget it. We’re doing it, get out of our way.’?
David Coleman: Well on this one, clearly the Federal Government over the past 12 months should have been active in actually making something happening and hasn’t been. Sometimes these sites are quite straightforward. The site goes up pretty quickly. Clearly, that hasn’t happened here. And that’s why as a Minister, you have got to step up and say, ‘well, hang on, this a Federal program and this is a serious issue.’ The Minister can’t just be some passive observer. The Minister is actually meant to be driving this stuff. And in, as I said, in Round 6 of the program, the Minister handpicked all the sites.
Chris O’Keefe: That’s fine, but she can. The Minister Michelle Rowland can hand-pick them. But if Telstra just drags their feet on it then, or Optus drags their feet on it, then well, what’s she supposed to do?
David Coleman: Well, I think there’s a lot you can do. I mean, obviously, the Federal Government…
Chris O’Keefe: Write a strongly worded letter? Like there’s not much she can do.
David Coleman: No, I don’t think that’s right, Chris. I mean, the Federal Government provides massive funding to telcos through the Mobile Black Spot Program and other programs. And I think that gives the Government quite a lot of leverage with the telcos. And sometimes as the Minister, you have just got to make the calls. And you have got to be calling the CEO of these companies and saying, ‘do this, you need to do it.’ And that’s what the Minister should be doing. And I think she should be getting everyone together whether it’s the Council, the telcos, Ausgrid. Get them together this week, and say, ‘we need to get this done’. And I think that’s the whole purpose of being a Minister. It’s to make things happen in your portfolio area. And that’s what I think should happen.
Chris O’Keefe: David Coleman, appreciate your time.
The Hon. David Coleman MP
Shadow Minister for Communications
Federal Member for Banks