Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said people power has been heard – and will be heard much more clearly – with news Woorinen South is finally going to get its own mobile phone tower.
It will finally mean a reliable mobile phone coverage for 2650 homes and businesses in the area.
Mr Walsh said this had been a fight for some years to ensure this vital agricultural region could have reliable communications with nearby Swan Hill, let alone the rest of the world.
He said the most recent campaign was a Parliamentary petition generated from his office to support residents maintain the urgency of their demands for coverage offered to areas just a short distance away.
“It has been an insult to the people running one of Victoria’s most productive horticultural regions that they have been left in a communications black hole for so long,” Mr Walsh said.
“Producers on this scale need to be in touch with downstream players, from transport to wholesalers and retailers but to achieve that, they had to stop what they were doing and drive to the nearest landline so they could have a proper, and complete, conversation,” he said.
“Now Telstra will finally improve mobile coverage between Wemen and Beverford in northern Victoria, including along a 40km stretch of the Murray Valley Highway and part of that network will be a 4G small cell at Woorinen South.”
Mr Walsh said the area is also home to major horticultural producers who rely heavily on modern agricultural technology such as sensors to gather data and manage orchards.
They will benefit greatly from the improved coverage and connections, which will also allow them to increase their use of advances such as robotics in everyday farm activities, including pest spraying and harvesting.
He said the improved connectivity will continue to seed further innovations in agricultural business.
“When this tower is switched on, the people of Woorinen South will finally be able to feel as though they are part of 21st century Victoria, instead of being forgotten and repeatedly overlooked for this valuable kind of support,” Mr Walsh added.
“I made regular visits to the area to meet with frustrated farmers and businesses and have raised the matter on the floor of the Victorian Parliament and in local media,” he said.
“Yes, this project will be a very welcome boost for business and families; it’s just unacceptable that it has taken so long to be set in motion.
“On more than one occasion I invited relevant Andrews Labor Government Ministers to join me at Woorinen South to see firsthand how bad the service was; but they all declined.”
Telstra regional general manager Steve Tinker said “this innovative partnership will see us deliver four new mobile sites to improve coverage across northern Victoria and boost connectivity for agri-businesses, locals and those travelling through the region”.