LIVES could be lost to North East bushfires because of a bureaucratic hold-up on emergency warning technology.
Former Wangaratta man Geoff Drucker has been trying for seven years to get approval for the technology.
But the Australian Communications and Media Authority has refused to budge.
The technology involves the overriding of radio frequencies to issue emergency warnings.
It was successfully trialled in November at well-known North East mobile phone blackspot Eldorado.
A dummy radio station was set up for the trial, with the test area covering a 10-kilometre radius around a prototype repeater that was then scaled back to a target area of five kilometres.
Member for Indi Sophie Mirabella said the technology would be operating by now if it was not for Labor “sitting on their hands”.
“Here’s an early stage Victorian company that has technology that can be applied anywhere in the world and yet it’s being stymied by red tape in its home country,” she said.
Mrs Mirabella said Communications Minister Stephen Conroy had failed to meet his assurance to introduce legislation in this year’s first parliamentary sitting.
Mr Drucker said his Melbourne-based company, Emergency Warning Systems, had held just one meeting with the authority on the matter.
“They advised us that for anything to go ahead with our technology there would need to be approval from COAG — that’s all the governments around Australia, which seems ridiculous as COAG has got nothing to with Eldorado putting in this technology,” he said.
“And secondly, we were told a Treasury study would need to be done to look into the costs of rolling out technology throughout the whole country.”
Mr Drucker said the goal was to get one of the units into Eldorado before the next bushfire season.
But that remains forbidden by the communications authority.
“If there was a bushfire and, God forbid, our technology could have been installed, I don’t know how the authority’s going to answer a coroner’s question of ‘why wouldn’t you let the technology be deployed when there’s no other way of warning people’.”
Mrs Mirabella has written to Senator Conroy seeking an update “on any legislative progress”.