More calls for Otways phone signal

 Gellibrand resident Allan Ryan bought his cabin two weeks ago and has discovered his mobile phone can’t pick up signals in the area.

Gellibrand resident Allan Ryan bought his cabin two weeks ago and discovered he has no mobile phone service.

THE start of bushfire season has prompted Otways residents to step up a campaign to eliminate mobile phone black spots.

Gellibrand Neighbourhood House members have opted to focus their attention on a new petition targeting the Federal Government’s $100-million mobile black spot program.

Residents previously had a petition calling on Telstra to keep a temporary tower in the town after a bike race last month, but Telstra has since removed that tower.

The new online petition targets Telstra and Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson to find a permanent solution.

Neighbourhood House co-ordinator Julia Malcolm said the new petition at called for temporary support and permanent coverage.

“We are aware that Gellibrand is a small community and therefore does not make a very strong business case to Telstra on its own,” she said.

“We will therefore be trying to gauge the number of tourists that are affected by this issue over the summer.”

“We will be asking those who sign the paper petition to provide an email address so that we can try to direct as many people as we can to the online petition.”

Community members said they would rely heavily on the Federal Government’s mobile black spot program which opens for submissions in June 2014.

The government has issued a discussion paper seeking feedback from communities in Corangamite on how to structure the $100-million regional mobile coverage program.

Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson said she was passionate about the issue and was “fighting hard to ensure Corangamite gets its fair share of black spot funding”.

“I have been extremely disappointed by Telstra’s refusal to invest in these communities which does not appear to take into account factors such as bushfire risk,” she said.

Submissions to the discussion paper close at 5pm on February 28.

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