Mobile tower for Mount Tomah must be built says Macquarie MP

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman [centre] and Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland [third front right] with Mount Tomah residents earlier this year.
Macquarie MP Susan Templeman [centre] and Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland [third front right] with Mount Tomah residents earlier this year.

A mobile communications tower in Mount Tomah is an essential and must be delivered under the current round of Commonwealth funding, says Macquarie MP Susan Templeman.

Ms Templeman, a long-time advocate for greater coverage of the region, says she is appalled the planned phone tower for Mount Tomah had once again been overlooked in the latest round of the Mobile Blackspot Program.

A total of $34.5 million in funding is included in the package, which aims to "extend and improve" mobile phone coverage to "natural disaster prone areas".

"I've called for funding to fix our black spots for years, and the Morrison Government announced a mobile tower for Mount Tomah in 2015," Ms Templeman said. "But then they secretly agreed with the NSW Government to relocate it to Gollan - near Dubbo - four years later.

"Residents of the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury know how bad communications are in our area, so the fact Liberal governments at both the state and federal levels have taken away a mobile tower in our area for what appears to be political purposes is astonishing.

"Mount Tomah lost a number of homes in last summer's bushfire crisis, and other buildings were damaged. Communities like this desperately need communications capability."

Ms Templeman said guidelines for the latest round of funding were released on November 18 and potential applicants - either mobile network operators or mobile network infrastructure providers - need to register their interest by mid-December.

"If the telco providers can't reach an agreement with infrastructure providers, then the Commonwealth and NSW governments need to step in and resolve this," she said.

"There are plenty of areas in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury that have poor communication and could be considered under this program.

"I am calling on the Prime Minister and Communications Minister to use this funding round to reconsider the frankly outrageous decision to scrap the Mount Tomah mobile tower, restore it, and take a good hard look at the poor communication available to the rest of our region. The communities of the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury deserve more."