REGIONAL communities crying out for improved mobile phone reception will have to wait another three years after the Gillard Government ignored a recommendation to expand services, says Shadow Minister for Regional Communications Luke Hartsuyker.
The Gillard Government released its response to the Sinclair Review into regional Telecommunications late last week.
"The review found that mobile phone coverage is the number-one telecommunications issue in regional Australia and recommended the Government introduce a co-investment program with state and local government to improve mobile coverage," Mr Hartsuyker said.
"However, the Government has decided not to fund any new program until the NBN wireless network is completed in 2015.
"This is a slap in the face for regional Australians hoping for better mobile phone coverage.
"After five years of failing to address mobile phone black spots, regional Australia must now wait until at least 2015 before the Government will consider investing in improved mobile phone coverage.
"The Government is treating regional Australians as second-class citizens.
"It shows how out of touch the minister is with regional Australia and the price country people are paying for the billions wasted on duplicating broadband services in metropolitan areas.
"For the cost of rolling out the NBN over one week, many of the mobile phone black spots could be fixed across regional Australia.
"The Howard Government invested $145 million to improve mobile coverage in regional Australia.
"Since Labor was elected in 2007, not one additional cent has been invested by the Government in the mobile phone network in the regions."
The Regional Telecommunications Review provides a snapshot of services in regional Australia and identifies consumer and business concerns.
Mr Hartsuyker said the Government's response to the Sinclair Review addressed a range of issues in addition to mobile phone coverage.
The Coalition will take time to consult with stakeholders on recommendations in the Review and the Government's response.