Towers to trump black spots

30 Jun, 2015 01:00 AM
That's good news, we're celebrating, they're bringing us into the 20th century finally

WHEATBELT communities in particular are celebrating news of 130 new or upgraded mobile phone base stations to eliminate some of the State's communications black spots.

Federal Commerce Minister Michael Mischin and State Regional Development Minister Terry Redman announced last Friday an extended $118 million program to provide 45 sites more than originally planned.

"That's good news, we're celebrating, they're bringing us into the 20th century finally," Trayning Shire president Freda Tarr said of the news.

"Of the six shires in NEWROC (North East Wheatbelt Region of Councils) four are getting towers, so we are all celebrating."

Ms Tarr said in Trayning Shire the proposed new tower at Kununoppin was vital for improved communications between the local St John Ambulance, Kununoppin Hospital and the airstrip where the Royal Flying Doctor Service landed.

All three are part of a black spot where only text messages could get through, she said.

Ms Tarr said St John recently equipped ambulances with iPads but local crews could not log on because of the communications problems.

"It's really hard to run a small business in town when the internet keeps dropping out and my son is the chief fire control officer and the only way they (farmers) can contact him is by text," she said.

Central Wheatbelt MP Mia Davies took to Facebook and described it as "great news" that Royalties for Regions funds had been "leveraged" against Federal funds to provide additional towers.

"Thanks to all who provided black spots and feedback, our hard work has paid off," she posted.

In her electorate new towers will be located at Elabbin and Nungarin (Nungarin Shire), Beacon (Mount Marshall Shire), Kununoppin (Trayning Shire), Warralakin (Westonia Shire), Great Eastern Highway between Bodallin and Moorine Rock, Cramphorne (Narembeen Shire), Mumberkine and Wongamine (Goomalling Shire), Ucarty (Cunderdin Shire), Grass Valley (Northam Shire) and Gilgering (York Shire).

"More than 30 communities in the Wheatbelt will receive coverage for the first time to boost economic development," Mr Mischin said.

"Some of the highest priority areas include the Salmon Holes in Albany, which has been the scene of numerous rock fishing incidents, as well as Mt Frankland West, Tindale Road Plantagenet in the South West and Great Southern in order to assist emergency service organisations.

"The entire route from Minilya to Exmouth will be covered to promote public safety and tourism development and three towers will cover the length of the Ferguson Valley in the South West to improve community amenity and tourism."

He said the 130 sites were predominantly small communities and strategic locations in the southern half of WA following on from the previous Regional Mobile Communications Project (RMCP), which targeted communities and transport corridors in the north.

They will be provided over the next three years with joint funding for 109 sites.

Royalties for Regions will contribute $32m.

Mr Redman said the 130 sites were in addition to 23 announced in February.

A $40m Royalties for Regions-funded RMCP completed in December had delivered 113 towers and, coupled with the current $45m project, took the "State Government's total investment in building phone towers in regional WA to $85 million since 2011", he said.

Mal Gill

Mal Gill

is wool and dairy writer for Farm Weekly


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