Tuesday, 8 August 2017
There is an absurdity that lies at the heart of the Turnbull government's National Broadband Network rollout plan, which means that so far, six years after the start of the National Broadband Network Companies Act, my federal electorate of Perth has only recently undertaken its rollout plan in order to be connected. Well, when I say 'my electorate', in truth only a very, very small parcel has recently received that magical purple shading on NBN Co's rollout map, and purple is the golden colour, for want of a better term, in relation to achieving NBN connectivity. Only a very, very small sliver of purple adorns the federal electorate of Perth: a very, very small corner of Bassendean and a small sliver of Mount Lawley.
The obscenity is this: I am contacted, as I'm sure all members of this place are, every week—day in, day out—by constituents complaining, quite rightly, about appallingly slow internet speeds. However, what's really interesting in relation to my electorate is that almost none of those complaints really come from Mount Lawley or Bassendean; the complaints come from those hard-working people in Noranda and Bayswater and Morley and Maylands and even East Perth, which lies not more than one kilometre from the Perth CBD: so close to the city, yet so incredibly isolated from the rest of the country and the rest of the world.
I recently met with Jill Hansen, who is running a wonderful pearl jewellery business in East Perth. The business is going well, but its potential is thwarted; it could be going so much better if she had a meaningful and reliable NBN connection. So much of her business relies on connectivity to manage stock in Australia and overseas, to manage and train staff, to communicate with traders around the world, and yet she cannot get her own phone line. She has to share a line with her neighbour. The only internet connectivity she has is with mobile broadband. Reliability suffers and she is regularly disconnected in the middle of transactions—simple web-based tasks take hours longer than they should, costing Jill's small business valuable time and valuable money. This Prime Minister's 'fraud band', not broadband, is single-handedly holding back this small business from growing and achieving its true potential.
Take Trent, for example, who recently bought a newly-built apartment in Maylands. He and other owners in his building cannot even get the internet. Telstra has told them that the copper cabling up the street is so degraded it won't even support DSL. Telstra won't upgrade it because—wait for it!—'NBN is coming'. Winter is coming, Game of Thrones is coming, but one thing that is not coming to Maylands is the NBN. The NBN is not coming any time soon, and it's happening on this Prime Minister's watch.