Black Spot phone tower on Gina Rinehart's property in New England plagued with reception problems

The Telstra phone tower (left) on the Sundown Valley Pastoral Company property owned by Gina Rinehart.
The Telstra phone tower (left) on the Sundown Valley Pastoral Company property owned by Gina Rinehart.

A PHONE tower championed by the federal government and built on mining baron Gina Rinehart's New England property has been plagued by reception problems.

Kingstown's community campaigned hard for the tower, switched on two weeks ago, to be co-located with a police and emergency services tower at the highest point in the district.

But it was built at Sundown Valley Pastoral Company, bought by Ms Rinehart's pastoral arm Hancock Prospecting in August last year. Landowners are paid a yearly fee by telecommunications companies to have towers placed on their property.

Kingstown resident Jeff Condren led the charge for a tower to be funded by the federal government's Mobile Blackspot Program and called it an "epic fail".

"Now that the tower has been in operation for several weeks it's evident the community concerns relating to the location and the service was well-justified," he said.

"Service levels drop to nothing just a couple of kilometres in any direction.

"The installed position while benefiting the immediate local community, us included as the tower is just 700 metres from mum's house, is located on low ground."

New England MP Barnaby Joyce announced the tower as part of the federal government's Mobile Black Spot program in June 2015.

A spokesman for Mr Joyce said the exact location of the tower was in this case chosen by Telstra.

"Any payments or leasing arrangements are a matter for the property owner and the mobile network operator," a spokesman for Mr Joyce said.

"The federal government is not involved in this process.

"The Commonwealth identifies the black spot location, in this case Kingstown - the exact site of the base station is determined by the applicant."

Telstra's engineering teams do a number of technical assessments when looking for a location for a base station site, but a spokesman said the final decision comes down to the federal government.

"For the federal government's Mobile Black Spot program the decision is ultimately in the hands of the government," he said.

Telstra would not confirm the amount paid to Hancock Prospecting for access to the property and use of land at Sundown Valley Pastoral Company as the arrangement is commercial in confidence.