MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – Broadband

It is interesting that the theme of this MPI is about

being second-rate. Well, nothing was as second-rate as Labor’s absolute dog’s breakfast of an NBN rollout. What we saw at the election was that construction had actually stopped completely. That is how good it was—it had stopped. Instead of, as we saw, building in areas where there was a real need, they were actually overbuilding in areas that had 100 megabits already available. In my seat of Forrest in Western Australia at the time of the election, there were zero NBN connections—zero! Now that is what you call second-rate.

Of course, this government have prioritised underserviced areas like the rural and regional area of Forrest. My area in the south-west of WA has been a major beneficiary of investment in communications, and we are delivering better broadband sooner to the south-west. Unlike the Labor Party’s pie-in-the-sky proposal—and it was, because we were looking at construction in my area at least into the next decade—today my region has towers going up and boxes being built on street corners. Of the 62,000 or so premises on the NBN rollout plan, there are currently some 35,000 premises in Forrest that have access to the NBN, and close to 10,000 have taken up NBN services. Mind you, a vast majority of these have fibre-to-the-premises connectivity.

Around 7,300 premises in the greater Bunbury area are in the process of getting access to the NBN, with construction on the fibre-to-the-node network now well under way. It is a really important milestone because we had zero premises with access to the NBN when Labor was in government. We have greater certainty for homes and businesses as they switch to fast broadband in the suburbs of Usher, Withers, South Bunbury, College Grove, Dalyellup, Gelorup and Carey Park. Final network designs are now complete and we have already seen NBN’s subcontractors in streets in other areas of Bunbury. Of course, the NBN rollout plan identifies at least 50,000 premises that will soon be able to access the NBN by fixed line technology and additionally through wireless and also through satellite.

The Busselton region will see even more people accessing the NBN much faster than previously thought, with a total of 16,600 premises that already have or will soon receive access to fixed line technology, and another 2,500 will have wireless access. There are two people in the chamber today from Busselton—David and Rosemary Ryan. When we got into government and the NBN started to roll out in their area of Busselton, they accessed the service and are extremely happy with the result. So, when we talk about second-rate, what was second-rate was the fact that they did not have a service before we got into government.

It is great to see the interim satellites that were launched and now the Sky Muster satellites—the second being launched only last week—providing much better services through regional and remote areas for regional and remote users. I saw in a press release that the Shire of Capel Council President, Murray Scott, said:

“The NBN is vital piece of infrastructure for the Shire of Capel providing enhanced connectivity for those who live and work in the region.

That is what we did not have under Labor. He also said:

Residents in the Shire’s rural locations—

not overbuilding in areas that already have access to fast broadband like Labor—

will at last have the option of a fast internet service to cater for their family needs and home businesses.

I also saw that Regional Development Australia’s Executive Officer, Charles Jenkins, said:

“The South West is going through a period of unprecedented economic, population and tourism growth. Access to better broadband gives local businesses the opportunity to improve productivity through internet enabled innovation, market the region as a tourist destination through social media and open up opportunities for online wine sales both domestically and internationally.”

Well, in my electorate of Forrest, we would have been waiting at least another 10 years at best for these types of services that were going to be delivered by Labor. That is what you call second-rate.