Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell, has welcomed today's announcement from Telecommunications Minister, Helen Coonan, that the Australian Government will continue to fund the Satellite Phone Subsidy Scheme until 2009 for those living and operating businesses in remote areas not covered by terrestrial mobile phone services.
"This is a scheme which recognises remote Australians' need for mobile communications and gives direct subsidy assistance of up to $1200 this year to those people who live and work in our remote areas wishing to purchase a satellite phone handset," Senator Boswell said.
"Since its inception in 2002, the Satellite Phone Subsidy Scheme has provided more than $8 million to support the purchase of more than 7000 satellite phones in remote Australia."
"Today's announcement means that more people will be able to access this funding, including subsidies of up to $900 this year for those people who don't live in remote Australia, but spend a significant amount of time doing business or working there."
Senator Boswell said that, while the Government's commitment to improving terrestrial mobile phone coverage over 10 years had paid huge dividends in terms of extended regional coverage, there would always be areas of Australia that could not be covered by a conventional terrestrial service.
"It is essential that Australian's don't miss out on being able to access mobile phone services simply because they choose to live and work in remote Australia, and that is why I welcome the decision to extend this successful subsidy scheme," Senator Boswell said.
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