SA calls for 'urgent' audit of mobile blackspot funding

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SA calls for 'urgent' audit of mobile blackspot funding

Claims to have been misled.

The South Australian Labor government has called for an "urgent" investigation into the federal government's latest round of funding for mobile blackspots, claiming it has been short-changed.

The state's Minister for Science and the Information Economy, Kyam Maher, revealed his government has written to federal auditor-general Grant Hehir requesting an investigation into the way sites are chosen for funding.

Several "high-risk areas missed out, despite being a high priority," Maher said. 

"This includes the site at Wasleys, which was hit by the Pinery bushfire," he said.

"During the federal election campaign, sitting Liberal members 'guaranteed' nine sites in their electorates. Of these, three were funded in round two."

The South Australian government had said it would contribute $2 million to the second round of the program, but only 15 sites at a value of $1.3 million were chosen by the federal government. 

Under the program, applications are submitted by network operators to the federal government for funding to build new base stations. Telcos are expected to co-contribute to the program if their sites are chosen.

Maher said the "lack of transparency" into how sites are chosen was a "significant concern".

The sites funded under round two of the program were announced last week.

Telstra and Optus were given the bulk of the $60 million in funding for the 266 new or upgraded base stations that will be built under the second round.

The program also earned criticism from Vodafone, which was awarded only four builds, for handing Telstra “75 percent of sites".

A third and final round of the mobile blackspots program is expected to run early next year.

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