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6 June, 2022

Telstra refuses to discuss mobile phone tower application

The sneaky telecommunications company circumnavigated local media to sneak through its proposal.

By Matt Nicholls

TELSTRA has refused to speak to Cape York Weeklyabout its maligned phone tower proposal in the main street of Cooktown.

The company’s regional general manager Rachel Cliffe complained that we did not contact Telstra for comment before last week’s edition, but then didn’t respond to our request to speak on the phone.

Telstra has a long and unimpressive record of requesting that questions be emailed to them, only to respond without actually answering them.

In a letter to the editor – which we won’t publish in full as Ms Cliffe didn’t respond to a request to speak to us – she said Telstra had complied with the Planning Act 2016.

However, Cape York Weekly can reveal that Telstra sneakily advertised the phone tower in the Mareeba-based The Express newspaper, rather than our publication or the New Cooktown Independent newsletter.

There are still question marks over whether the development application signage was erected on the property in a timely manner, although Telstra insists it met the requirements.

“We take our responsibilities to consult the community seriously and have followed the correct procedure, including site signage, letters to neighbours and newspaper advertising, all within the required timeframes,” Ms Cliffe wrote.

 She did not address why the telco was insistent on the main street site, rather than a site just a few blocks away.

“Mobile services in Cooktown are severely affected during the tourist season, so we are planning to replace an existing small cell with a new mobile base station on the corner of Walker and Charlotte streets, which will deliver improved coverage, capacity and speed for the town, including 5G for the first time,” Ms Cliffe wrote.

Because she refused to speak to Cape York Weekly, Ms Cliffe couldn’t answer why the Telstra services in Cooktown were poor year-round, including outside of the tourist season. 

“We welcome community feedback and will review any matters that were raised by the community as part of this process,” she wrote.

The development application will now be decided by Cook Shire Council, which should tell Telstra to consult with the community before re-applying.

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