Despite huge portions of the Stuart Highway having limited to no phone reception, the Federal Government’s latest announcement for “Government Priority Locations” (attached) shows, once again, a lack of commitment by Malcolm Turnbull, cabinet Minister Senator Nigel Scullion and the Coalition to the Northern Territory.
Despite promising a competitive and merit based process for ranking mobile black spots in order of community need or priority, this approach has been abandoned by the Minister for Regional Development Senator Fiona Nash and the Turnbull Government. The Territory, despite having huge blackspot areas for mobile reception, does not even warrant a mention on the Government Priority Locations list, despite the fact that every other state received a mention.
Unsurprisingly, there are three times as many Government Priority Locations in Coalition electorates. The Minister has already been criticised for not providing any further funding for this program in the Budget. And, despite problems with the program identified by the ANAO last year which recommended improved assessment processes and better transparency, the Minister has not made any changes.
Territorians deserve better and Minister Scullion needs to start standing up to his cabinet colleagues and getting a better deal for the Territory.