MEMBER for Farrer, Sussan Ley, was in Buronga earlier this week to announce $3.9 million would be spent, in conjunction with the Wentworth Shire Council and Telstra, to install three new mobile phone coverage sites along the Silver City Highway.

Ms Ley said the announcement was not an election commitment but a fully funded project which was under way.

“These new sites will start to address the huge gap in mobile telecommunications on the Silver City Highway,” Ms Ley said.

“The three macro communication towers that will be built will start at Pomona North and head toward the Coombah roadhouse in Scotia.

“Anyone who has driven between Wentworth and Broken Hill, as many people have, they are shocked by the complete lack of coverage along that route.

“Over the years we have had some tragedies, and today we are announcing that mobile telecommunications are going to be there on that road for safety, for the community, for locals and visitors, indeed for all of western NSW and northwest Victoria.”

Ms Ley thanked the council who she said had always been terrific partners.

“When it comes to the Commonwealth and the spending that we do to make a difference out here, Wentworth Council are great to work with and I also want to thank Gus Whyte for his tireless advocacy over so many years in regard to this issue, which he has done on behalf of the community,” Ms Ley said.

“For everyone who has been waiting for this, I think this is a very positive day and don’t worry, I’ll be cracking the whip to get these phone towers built.

“The actual building of the towers belongs to the telcos, but I will certainly be giving them a very substantial hurry-up, because these towers were needed yesterday.”

Wentworth Deputy Mayor Daniel Linklater said in addition to the obvious practical and convenience factors in having mobile coverage, there was a real safety aspect.

“That’s why we have so many of the emergency services joining us here today who have been pushing for this for so long,” Mr Linklater said.

“I want to acknowledge the advocacy of the council over the last number of years and also to Gus Whyte, as well as other community members, Brendon and Maureen Duncan, Jason and Tarsh Cullinan, Phil and Chris Larwood, Mark and Lindy Withers and Andy and Fiona McLeod.”

Wyndham Station owner and RFS volunteer Fire Captain Gus Whyte said that along that highway he knows first-hand how distressing it is when you go out to a critical or fatal accident and there isn’t adequate communications.

“It’s tough for people who are looking to report an incident and then they have to wait 40 minutes or an hour until they reach mobile coverage so that they can report it,” he said.

“This announcement is really appreciated, particularly by those of us who live out there. We will have access to telemetry and be able to use apps in the paddock, things that we just haven’t been able to do because we are in a total black spot.”

Rural Fire Service Lower Western District manager Superintendent Steve Walker said that the announcement was a fantastic development for emergency services and the community.

“Just from an emergency services point of view, the connectivity and the information that we will be able to get to our crews as Gus just alluded to, will be very welcome,” Supt Walker said.

Telstra Regional General Manager Steve Tinker confirmed that the three new sites will boost Telstra mobile coverage on the Silver City Highway and will mean a significantly better experience for their customers between Wentworth and Scotia.

“Building three sites as part of one project means we’ve been able to boost coverage in more places and also save time and money on planning and building and can fast-track design and construction,” Mr Tinker said.

“As part of this project, we’ll build a brand new 70 metre tower at Pomona North and add Telstra mobile sites to two existing radio towers at Anabranch and Belvedere.”