Victorian MP defends not extending mobile phone black spot coverage for North East train travellers with a swipe

On a different train: Victorian Government minister Philip Dalidakis blames parochialism for the mobile phone concerns of North East rail travellers.
On a different train: Victorian Government minister Philip Dalidakis blames parochialism for the mobile phone concerns of North East rail travellers.

A VICTORIAN Government minister has labelled the desire for mobile phone black spot coverage on the North East rail line “parochialism”.

Small Business, Innovation and Trade Minister Philip Dalidakis was trumpeting the government’s $18 million rollout of mobile phone coverage to aid passengers on five country lines when he made the comment on ABC radio.

He was asked by ABC Goulburn Murray host Joseph Thomsen why the black spot upgrade could not have been extended beyond Seymour to Albury-Wodonga.

“How long is a piece of string?” Mr Dalidakis said.

“You’re focusing on what’s not being done, I want to focus on what we are doing.

“The original envelope was about $40 million and we’ve used $22 million of that forty on the eradication of black spots….that left $18 million to get the best outcome we can. 

“We think that’s best spent across five rail lines in rural and regional Victoria.

“I understand the parochialism about extending it beyond Seymour to Albury-Wodonga.”

Mr Dalidakis was then interrupted by Thomsen who accused him of being a “little dismissive” by referring to parochialism in light of the litany of problems affecting the North East line.

The minister then said: “You tell the people of Geelong that they shouldn’t get black spots eradicated between Melbourne and Geelong.”

The Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and Traralgon routes will benefit from the plan which involves the government joining with telcos to boost the signal of mobile phone towers along the corridors.