Response to Question Without Notice - House of Representatives - Telecommunications
Mrs Phillips (Gilmore) (05:09): My question is to the Minister for Communications. What progress has been made on delivering the Albanese Labor government's investments in regional communications, including for improvements in mobile coverage? Why is it important for the government to deliver on its commitments, and what approaches have been rejected by the government?
Ms Rowland (Greenway—Minister for Communications) (15:10): I thank the member for her question and I acknowledge her advocacy in this area. The Albanese government is delivering the most significant regional communications investment package since the inception of the NBN. We are investing over $2.2 billion in regional comms over the next five years, and that is a substantial increase on the coalition's budget of around $1.3 billion. We also committed before the federal election to addressing mobile coverage issues in a number of communities across Australia, based on feedback from councils, telcos and locals to Labor when we were in opposition. Many of those locations were in bushfire- and disaster-prone areas, such as the Blue Mountains and the South Coast of New South Wales.
These are at-risk areas that had not been addressed by the coalition. They were our election commitments. We listened, we committed and now we are acting.
In addition to these election commitments at 54 locations, there are a number of other programs contained in the October budget providing additional regional comms investment. Applications will shortly open for two programs making available $150 million of federal co-investment, including for mobile black spots. The government also committed $480 million for a major expansion and upgrade of the fixed wireless network of the NBN, benefitting around one million regional premises, and $1.1 million in NBN fibre upgrades for 660,000 regional premises. This includes freeing up additional satellite capacity and has enabled a trial of unmetered Sky Muster satellite access.
These upgrades are proceeding apace. This is in stark contrast to those opposite. Their record on the NBN was a masterclass in economic and technological incompetence.
But what is most amazing is to hear those opposite complain about Labor's election commitments with a total lack of self-awareness about their own approach. In the priority round of the Mobile Black Spot Program under the coalition, you might wonder, out of 125 priority locations, how many were located in Liberal and National seats. Out of 125, it was 124—99.2 per cent of the funding was driven to coalition seats. We will not be lectured to by this rabble, these mates of John Barilaro.
They take inspo from Bara; that is what they do. They neglect regional Australia and they have the hide to complain about Labor meeting its election commitments and not fighting for their own constituents.