Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP has today questioned why the government has chosen to install only one satellite dish on the South Coast under the Securing Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters package.
Although the headline in the government’s media release stated satellite dishes would improve connectivity on the South Coast, according to the release only one satellite dish would be installed at 92 Albatross Road, Nowra, the Shoalhaven Fire Control Centre.
While the Gilmore MP welcomes any investment to improve telecommunications for local emergency services, she was shocked that the government has only announced one satellite dish on the South Coast from the $37.1 million fund.
“The Eurobodalla and the Shoalhaven local government areas are two of the hardest hit from the bushfires in Australia – so why has all of Gilmore only been provided with one additional satellite under this program?” Fiona Phillips asked.
As part of the announcement, Senator Jim Molan said this investment would “help people in disaster-affected areas stay connected with family and essential services”, however Mrs Phillips questioned what impact one satellite could possibly have, given the scale of blackspots and problems along the South Coast.
“I have community organisations crying out for help with their telecommunications following the bushfires and I have contacted the Minister requesting funding support for these projects, but the answer is always the same – we have a $2 billion fund. Well, quite frankly, where is it?” she added.
Communities like that of South Durras have been seeking funding to upgrade their power poles and place an NBN cable, which currently runs through the Murramarang National Park, underground, but the Minister has said there is no money for that.
The government is also dragging its heels when it comes to mobile blackspots like the promised improvements to Clyde Mountain.
“Is it any wonder we only get one satellite dish when the government has released less than one per cent of the announced funding for telecommunications improvements,” Fiona Phillips said.
The latest figures, released by the National Bushfire Recovery Agency this month, show barely any money from multiple funding programs has been spent more than a year after the bushfires.
It comes on top of a report released this week by Per Capita which showed only half of the overall bushfire recovery funding promised had actually been spent.
“Local people are sick and tired of the Morrison Government’s flashy announcements with no substance – we still have a long way to go in our recovery and we deserve better than one measly satellite dish,” Fiona Phillips said.