Senator Bridget McKenzie and Nationals candidate Gaelle Broad. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

CONNECTIVITY to internet and mobile services is as important to regional Australians as roads and infrastructure, according to deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie.

Senator McKenzie joined Nationals candidate for Bendigo East Gaelle Broad yesterday to double down on a recent announcement of a $25 million investment toward the Mobile Blackspot Program.

But federal member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters was quick to respond, saying the money was not new and instead came out of the $83 million committed to in stage three of the program.

Bendigo has not been a recipient of funding through the opening stages, and Ms McKenzie said the blackspot program is geared toward areas that have so little coverage that calls can’t be made in emergency situations.

“If there’s significant blackspots in Bendigo and there’s an identified need I’d encourage those communities and those people and places to put their application forward,” she said.

“But when you’re looking at, as a government, trying to connect communities that have no wi-fi, that can’t make a phone call when a fire comes through.

“Where we’re looking at somewhere like Bendigo, you have access to broadband and can make a phone call in any street I’ve been in, I think you’d understand where we want to try and put that federal government money.”

Wi-fi on trains was also on the agenda, with Ms Broad questioning the state government’s recent push to install wireless internet on V/Line trains.

“We keep hearing that it’s coming and it’s no surprise that with an election in November that the state government has said ‘yes we’ll get that mobile connectivity on carriages before the end of this year,’” Ms Broad said.