• Tony Bosworth

Get down here Minister and make a call on Mt Tomah – Templeman

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman is calling on Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to visit the Hawkesbury and see for himself how patchy mobile phone coverage is.

“I would urge the minister to visit Mount Tomah with me and see for himself why the mobile tower promised in 2015 is so important,” says the MP.

“He should also come to St Albans in the Macdonald Valley, where residents were promised a mobile tower under the Mobile Black Spot funding program in 2017.

“There’s been four fire seasons since then and there is still no mobile phone tower.

“Along the way, he will encounter mobile black spots right across the electorate.

Earlier this week Minister Fletcher told the Post the Hawkesbury had seen substantial investment in mobile phone towers.

“Seven of these towers are already providing coverage to communities at Colo Heights, Kurrajong, Webbs Creek, Grose Vale, Upper Colo, Megalong Valley and Macdonald Valley School,” said the Minister on Monday.

Ms Templeman has again raised the decision by the Government to take away the planned mobile tower from Mount Tomah in 2019.

“In its half-baked approach to mobile black spot funding, the Liberal Government was happy to take away a proposed mobile tower for Mount Tomah – the very area hit by the black summer bushfires,” Ms Templeman said.

“It leaves the telcos to be responsible, and takes no responsibility for the gaps in service, while local people are left wondering if their properties are in the path of bushfire.

Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman speaks to the media about communications challenges in the electorate at Parliament House on December 2

“But the Communications Minister responded in the media by basically saying we should be grateful for what we’ve got, that we’ve had a number of towers put into the electorate over the term of this government.

“I call on this government to urgently review this situation in the local area, use the latest round of mobile black spot funding to reinstate a mobile tower for Mount Tomah, and look at further upgrades that could save lives in our bushfire-prone region,” said Ms Templeman.

The MP is calling for the urgent review of mobile phone coverage in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury areas following the first bushfire of the season at Faulconbridge on November 29, and damaging storms.

“The strong winds and scorching temperatures that whipped up the bushfire at Faulconbridge, and the subsequent power cuts, have reinforced for people yet again how vulnerable their phone and internet access is,” Ms Templeman said.

“With most NBN services in the Blue Mountains and across much of the Hawkesbury, when the power goes off, the phone dies.

“For many people, including me, that means no mobile service at home, because we simply don’t have the coverage and reply on our modems to link us to the network with wifi.

“Once the power was restored after the bushfire, Facebook comments showed how anxious people were for hours because they had no reliable means of communication.

“People couldn’t load Fires Near Me for updates, they had no landline. I saw people recommending expensive satellite phones to each other, which is ridiculous for people living in urban areas.

“It’s time there was a complete review of mobile coverage in the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains, taking into account the NBN access people have.

“I met with Telstra this week in Canberra and raised the issue of poor coverage. I have again asked for their assistance in finding solutions for our problematic areas.

“A new round of Mobile Blackspot funding has opened for the telcos to apply for by February 2021, and I’ll be providing my input to them on the areas my community has identified.”

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