Rex Patrick wants mobile coverage guarantees

COVERAGE FOR ALL: Senate candidate Rex Patrick said as an independent he would be able to raise issues major party members cannot, like guaranteed mobile coverage. Picture: Tyler Redway.

Elsie Adamo

LIMESTONE Coast locals can expect better phone coverage, if South Australian Federal Senator Rex Patrick has his way.

During a tour of the South East this week, he said phone coverage in the South East should be guaranteed, and shared his plans to make it happen.

Currently, National Broadband Network (NBN) and fixed landlines are part of the Customer Service Guarantee which makes access to both services required under law for all Australian homes and businesses, but

Mr Patrick wants to add mobile coverage to that list.

“The concern is if someone does have an accident you are just unable to make contact to get help,” Mr Patrick said.

“My bill focuses on safety and saving lives.

“The solution to that is to impose, as they do for NBN and for landlines, an obligation on the providers to have a minimum coverage.”

Mr Patrick said that the particulars of how the coverage would work should be left to providers, but he is confident he would be able to push the change through parliament if re-elected.

“It is not an idea that is unique, it has been raised by others in the past,” Mr Patrick said.

“You have to guide it politically through the parliament, but I have experience in being able to do that.”

Mobile blackspots weren’t the only issue at the forefront of Mr Patrick’s campaign , with cost of living pressures also a big issue for the region.

He called on the party that takes government after the federal election to extend the 22 cent excise cut on fuel for a further six months., saying the original idea for the fuel tax cut had come from himself and not the Liberal Party.

“At the time Josh Frydenberg, Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor came out and said it was a wacky idea, we are not even considering that,” he said.

“Slowly what was first a wacky idea became an idea that was worth consideration, to, it is their idea on budget night.”

Mr Patrick viewed the cut as purposefully timed by the Liberal Party to get them through the election campaign and said he was worried about the impact on Australians once the cut is lifted.

According to Mr Patrick, money spent on fuel is not discretionary, those that must buy it often have no choice, especially in regional areas.

“You have to go to work, you have to take the kids to school, you have to go to the doctor, people in the regions have to go further to do some of those things,” he said.

“I have made the call, and if I am re-elected that will be a focus of mine.”