TRANSCRIPT: Press conference – Mt McDonald, NSW – Mobile Black Spot Program, 5 August 2019
With: Mr Tom O’Dea, Territory General Manager for Central West NSW, Optus
Subject: Mobile Black Spot Program
The Federal Government Mobile Black Spot Program actually sends information from local communities about what’s affecting them and known black spots, and they then work with organisations like Optus to bring coverage to areas like Wyangala and Mount McDonald.
Yes. Michael, have you been hearing any feedback from Wyangala residents about black spot areas?
It’s probably the biggest issue and always has been, right since I was elected in 2010. Mobile connectivity is something everyone wants, expects, demands and deserves. And Wyangala is no different than any other community right throughout the Riverina and Central West. So it’s great to partner with Optus. We’ve just announced the latest round of Black Spot funding. We’re committed to this.
So far, 1047 towers have been installed or funded. We’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this program. It’s a good program.
I’m delighted that the NSW Government has also come on board, because they want the State to be Black Spot-free by 2023.
So that’s encouraging for little communities, whether they are coastal, whether they are rural, regional or indeed remote, because these communities punch well above their weight when it comes to economic output. They need the mobile connectivity; to be connected is to be in touch with the rest of the world. It’s for convenience; it’s for safety; it’s for doing business and it’s just for keeping in touch with families. That’s why it’s important.
You talked earlier about the benefits of having a mobile tower, not just obviously for connectivity but, as you said, education, health and emergency situations.
Yes. The thing with investing in mobile base stations is that small business get benefits out if it obviously through extra connectivity, extra access to customers; agricultural business; health; education; all those things – all of those benefits, as Michael is saying, in the areas that are already hitting well above their weight from an economic output point of view, will only be improved by having additional connectivity. The big one for us, though, is obviously keeping people safe. Not being able to make a phone call when you are broken down on the side of the road or there’s a bushfire or something like that – that’s serious. To be able to bring coverage to this area, including 35 kilometres of roads that in most cases haven’t had access to mobile network, is incredibly important. So we’re really excited about that.
You have a little public school down here and those kids could be anything from astrophysicists to medical engineers who find the gene that causes cancer – everything from that right through to local nurses, local farmers, whatever the case might be: They’ve got the potential to be anything. Just because you are from Wyangala, it doesn’t matter what our postcode is, you have the potential in this nation to be anything you want to be. And why shouldn’t they have the very best connectivity? That’s what our Government stands for. That’s what I know telcos such as Optus stand for. Today is a great outcome.