Hello? Whitby/Mundijong…are you there? We can’t hear you

Hello? Whitby/Mundijong…are you there? We can’t hear you

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The pole has been constructed, but the head frame and panel antennas still need to be installed.

Whitby and Mundijong locals without phone reception might have to wait until the end of the year for relief, unless advocacy from the SJ Shire finds traction with Federal Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland.

The 35-metre-tall Telstra telecommunications tower on Keirnan Street has had shire development approval since March last year.

The monopole and ground fencing has been erected, but Telstra has reportedly run into issues with power supply.

In January they indicated to the shire to expect a completion date in the second half of the year.

Development plans for the mobile phone base station

Despite moving to revoke the development application last year, it was Cr Tricia Duggin who moved a motion at the recent council meeting to up the ante by appealing to the federal government to help expedite the completion of the telco phone base, whilst also continuing to try to make headway with Telstra.

“We have an area where people have to walk out onto their driveway to make a phone call. If we have fires go through, we don’t have an easy, accessible way for them to contact people,” she said.

“If they have someone who is unwell in their house – if the worst thing happens and they have to give CPR, they cannot use their phone, because they’d have to leave their loved one to go out onto the driveway to be able to contact emergency services.

“I think that’s totally inappropriate and I think it’s a shame that we even need to look at bringing this to the table, but here we are.”

Local resident Lisa Brazier also wants to see the phone tower active, but expressed her astonishment at Cr Duggin’s about-face on this issue.

“The shire councillors disrupted the works schedule and now you want the Federal minister to come over the top of the telecommunications company – have we exhausted all efforts to work collaboratively with the telecommunications company involved before we take such action?” she asked during public question time.

Cr Morgan Byas echoed Ms Brazier’s concerns while opposing the motion.

“It’s no small thing to write to a Commonwealth minister, so I do think that we need to exhaust all other options before we hit that button,” he said.

But Cr Duggin dug her heels in.

“This has been going on not for just the amount of time this has been in council, but for much, much longer, since Whitby was first built. So, I think it is time for us to stand for our residents and to send that letter to the Minister,” she said.

The motion was passed four to one, with Cr Nathan Bishop absent.