Governments move mobile tower project to Central West

After six years of waiting, Mt Tomah is no longer in line for a new mobile phone tower after the NSW and federal governments gave approval for the project to be moved to Gollan, near Dubbo.

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman has reacted angrily to the move, saying it highlighted the failure of the Morrison Government's Mobile Blackspot funding program to solve problems in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury.

Poor reception: Macquarie MP Susan Templeman has reacted angrily to the news Mt Tomah will not be getting a mobile phone tower. Picture: Supplied.

Poor reception: Macquarie MP Susan Templeman has reacted angrily to the news Mt Tomah will not be getting a mobile phone tower. Picture: Supplied.

Mt Tomah is located in the Blue Mountains Local Government Area (LGA), which is also a part of the federal electorate of Macquarie.

"After years of delays, I was advised of problems with the construction of the mobile blackspot phone tower for Mt Tomah in September 2018 by Telstra and wrote to the minister," she said in a statement.

"As a result I worked with the minister and Telstra to identify some alternative locations and linked them with Blue Mountains City Council to ensure that all relevant parties were communicating with each other on the matter.

"In March 2019 Telstra identified three alternative sites at Mt Tomah they said they would consider. Today they say these sites have been 'deemed unsuitable to progress'.

"I have now learned from Telstra that the decision by the Morrison Government to strip Mobile Blackspot funding away from the electorate of Macquarie was actually made earlier this year, after the NSW Government approved a replacement site in June 2018 in the neighbouring Calare electorate, held by the National Party.

"I am disgusted that funding announced by the Liberals in the very first round of Mobile Blackspot funding was never delivered and is now simply switched to a National Party held seat. And the community has every right to be bitterly disappointed.

"Mount Tomah is a highly bushfire prone area, along the busy Bells Line of Road, and a long way from services. People who live in Mount Wilson and Mount Irvine were also hoping to gain some benefit from the additional coverage. This area should absolutely be a priority for improved mobile reception. I was of the belief that this program was above politics. How wrong I was.

"Labor welcomed and matched every one of the Mobile Black Spot projects that have been announced in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury, and I demand the Morrison Government reinstates the funding for Mount Tomah and guarantees that the remaining sites go ahead."

But a spokesperson for Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government Mark Coulton said the Federal Government had was delivering nine new phone towers "that will make it easier for people in the Macquarie electorate to make calls, send messages and use social media.

"This is in stark contrast to Ms Templeman's Labor Government, that failed to deliver a single black spot tower anywhere in Australia during their time in office," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"This government is committed to getting rid of more black spots and earlier this year announced an additional $160 million for two new rounds, bringing our total commitment $380 million over six years.

"More phone towers means people will be able to make Triple 0 calls in more locations, stay connected with their families, and make it easier for people to do business."