$80 million for Mobile Black Spot Program: Mark Coulton, Bridget McKenzie

CONNECTIVITY: Bridget McKenzie and Mark Coulton. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
CONNECTIVITY: Bridget McKenzie and Mark Coulton. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

The mobile black spots yet to get coverage are "the more difficult ones to cover", says Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton.

Round five of the Mobile Black Spot Program is open. $80 million has been allocated for the program to expand mobile coverage in rural and regional areas.

In the latest round, it was announced that the Parkes electorate would receive five new Telstra base stations at Tilpa, Silverton Exchange, Enngonia, Pimpara Lake (near Packsaddle) and Naree Station (near Yantabulla).

Mr Coulton said across the electorate he had seen an improvement in mobile coverage, but there was still "work to be done".


"I basically run my office from the front of my car. My wife Robin sits next to me reading the emails and we make phone calls and deal with that in the front of my car," he said.

"It doesn't work everywhere, but it's certainly a lot better than it was five or six years ago."

Those with coverage issues are urged to contact their network mobile operators and government authorities to make their concerns known.

"The areas that are left are the more difficult ones to cover, so we're going further west, where there's less population. They present particularly difficult circumstances and the other ones are in areas to the eastern side of my electorate where the topography means that some areas are hidden by mountain ranges or other things," Mr Coulton said.

Another $60 million has been allocated in the federal budget to improve digital connectivity.

Minister for Regional Services Bridget McKenzie said she was aware not every "place and space in regional Australia" was the same.

"So having a big $7000 base station might not fix your particular connectivity needs. So we've got a fund available now, that recognises the pace of technology change is exponential," she said.

"Communities will be able to apply to the digital connectivity fund to get a place-based solution that's just right for them using the best available technology for their particular connectivity needs."

Ms McKenzie said digital connectivity would increase productivity for farmers by up to 25 per cent.

"We know our farmers and our communities need this particular connectivity, not just to keep us safe so we can call an ambo, call the firies when we need them, not just to stay connected to family and friends but so we can access telehealth services in drought-affected communities... but also so we can access education services both at the secondary and tertiary education level," she said.

Mobile network operators and infrastructure providers have until July 26 to submit their applications.

Applications will be assessed by the Department of Communications and the Arts.