Senator Bridget McKenzie Photo: Andrew Perryman.

Minister for Regional Services Senator Bridget McKenzie said the Labor Party have simply ‘cut and paste’ from the Coalition’s regional community policy, after Labor announced it would invest $245 million to address mobile blackspots.

“I don’t think I have ever seen such a blatant case of cut and paste policy from Labor before,” Senator McKenzie said.

Federal member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters has fired back, saying that the Coalition’s mobile blackspot program is a failure.

“In the six years the Liberal National Party have been in government, only two or three towers have been switched on in the Bendigo electorate,” Ms Chesters said.

“This failure is not something Labor would wish to ‘cut and paste’,” she said.

Ms Chesters said mobile blackspots continue to be a problem in the electorate.

“When I’m out in Maiden Gully at a listening post, this issue comes up all the time,” she said.

“We are growing too quickly for the mobile phone coverage that we have in some areas,” Ms Chesters said.

At a National Press Club speech in Wodonga on March 20, Senator McKenzie announced a $220 million Regional Digital Connectivity Package that included $160 million for two new rounds of the Mobile Black Spot program and $60 million for a new Regional Connectivity Program.

“We now have Labor’s regional communication policy that includes $160 million to deliver mobile coverage through two further rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program,” Sen McKenzie said.

Both Senator McKenzie and Ms Chesters agree that greater access to mobile services in regional Australia is a priority.

“Better mobile service is a priority at the local government level, at the state government level and at the community level,” Ms Chesters said.

On March 18, Senator McKenzie announced that round four of the Mobile Black Spots Program would deliver 180 new mobile base stations to address coverage issues in regional and remote Australia.

Up to $80 million of funding has been allocated for round five of the program, which was announced last month.

Mobile network operators and infrastructure providers have until 26 July to submit their applications for this latest round of funding.