McKenzie fails to nail cut-and-paste claim

Senator McKenzie's claim Labor cut and pasted mobile black spot policy is true but misleading.
Senator McKenzie's claim Labor cut and pasted mobile black spot policy is true but misleading.

AAP FactCheck Investigation: Did Labor 'cut and paste' the coalition's policy to fix regional black spots?

The Statement

Regional Services Minister Bridget McKenzie accuses Labor of blatantly "cut and pasting" the coalition's policy on upgrading regional communications.

May 1, 2019.

The Verdict

Misleading - The claim is mostly true but somewhat misleading.

The Analysis

AAP FactCheck examined Regional Services Minister Bridget McKenzie's claim that Labor was guilty of 'cut and pasting' the coalition government's policy to deliver better communications for regional voters.

The Victorian National Party senator made the accusation in response to a $160 million announcement by Labor spokesman for regional communications Stephen Jones' "to deliver improved mobile coverage through two further rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program". [1]

Senator McKenzie's office told AAP FactCheck the source of her claim was Labor's 'Plan for Better Regional Communications' announced on April 30, 2019. [2]

The coalition's mobile phone black spot program was a 2013 election commitment by the Abbott government to improve phone coverage in remote and regional areas. [3]

Senator McKenzie's office says the coalition released its Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity Package on March 20, 2019. The package includes $160 million for two new rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program and $60 million for a new Regional Connectivity Program. [4]

Labor's alternative Plan for Better Regional Communications includes "$160 million to deliver improved mobile coverage through two further rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program" and "$60 million to local projects to address regional connectivity issues". [2]

AAP FactCheck asked the ALP and Mr Jones for a response to Senator's McKenzie's claim about an alleged "cut and paste" but received no reply. However, on Twitter Mr Jones counter-accused Senator McKenzie of copying Labor's policy from a speech he delivered at the 2018 CommsDay Summit in Sydney in April. [5]

In his 2018 speech, Mr Jones said that during the 2016 federal election "Labor pledged to match coalition funding for a black spots program". [6]

This pledge demonstrates Labor's intention to match the government's funding in its own Better Regional Communications plan and accounts for the similarity of the two parties funding commitments.

AAP FactCheck concludes Senator McKenzie's claim about a "cut and paste" of policy by Labor is correct as it has the same funding commitment. However, Labor is on the record stating it would match coalition funding.

The Verdict

Misleading - The claim is mostly true but somewhat misleading.

The References

1: ALP pledge $245 million to improve regional communication', by Leighton Smith. The Daily Examiner. May 1, 2019: https://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/news/alp-pledge-245-million-to-improve-regional-communi/3715289/

2: 'Labor's Plan to deliver Better Regional Communications'. Labor: https://alp.org.au/policies/labors-plan-to-deliver-better-regional-communications/

3: 'Coalition's. Mobile Black Spot. Programme'. August 2013: https://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committees/fapa_ctte/estimates/.../pm34_att25.pdf

4: 'More reliable connections for the bush'. Department of Communications and the Arts. Australian Government. March 20, 2019: https://www.communications.gov.au/departmental-news/more-reliable-connections-bush

5: 'Stephen Jones MP'. Verified Twitter Account. April 30, 2019: https://twitter.com/search?q=%40Commsday&src=typd

6: Stephen Jones MP. Speeches'. July 25, 2018: http://www.stephenjones.org.au/unwired_revolution_commsday_conference

Australian Associated Press