The Victorian government has “abandoned” the last round of the federal mobile blackspots scheme, saying it will run its own version with $11 million it had set aside.
The state government said it would choose sites “based on merit and necessity rather than political interests”, repeating grievances it first aired back in October last year.
At that time, it said that “Victoria looks set to be short-changed in the latest round” of the federal scheme, and said it was looking at other avenues.
It has now formalised its exit from the final round of the mobile blackspots program and will use $11 million it had set aside for the program to fund its own scheme.
“The decision to leave the federal government’s program is due to the Commonwealth failing to properly consult when choosing sites and a complete lack of transparency about how sites are chosen,” Minister for innovation and the digital economy Philip Dalidakis said in a statement.
“Malcolm Turnbull continues to choose sites that are in his political interests, not the interests of regional Victoria.”
The federal government opened the third round of the blackspots program to telcos in November last year.
The origin of the third tranche goes back to late 2014 when MPs in non-urban areas were invited to submit “priority locations” they believed were most in need of better mobile services.
From that exercise, 106 locations across Australia have been shortlisted.