House debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Matters of Public Importance


3:48 pm

Photo of Susan TemplemanSusan Templeman (Macquarie, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Well, I'd like to see some of the coalition government come and talk to businesses in the Blue Mountains, because what they'll tell you is that fibre to the node has been an absolute disaster for their businesses. Let me tell you the story of Ron. When it rains, his fibre-to-the-node connection stops. There's nothing. And what his customers get is a message telling them that his number doesn't exist. So, there's Ron, running a sound and light production company, and yet, with a drop of rain, his customers get told that he just doesn't exist. Now, how's that for the party who reckons they stand for small business?

Then you have Keaton, a children's filmmaker. He does want to see kids quotas—that's the other issue that this government has let him down on. But the main problem he has now is that he cannot run his business in the Blue Mountains. He cannot get the upload speeds that he needs, because fibre to the node is a substandard technology. He has to commute down to Sydney, to Gore Hill, where his production company sits. This is what this government has done to people who'd hoped to be able to base their business in the mountains.

My third example is Aaron. Aaron runs one of the most beautiful B&Bs that you'd find, in Leura. He rates really high on every score from his visitors. The one thing that lets him down is his NBN connection. We've tried everything we can to help Aaron because he doesn't want to have to wait for Labor to come in. He knows that when we win government he will have fibre to the premises, which his customers and visitors will absolutely love. They'll be able to stay there not just for a weekend but for some of their working week as well. But they can't right now.

What Aaron's been told is that he is more than a kilometre from a node. He can only get 21 megabits per second download and four megabits per second upload. How do you upload your photos to Facebook or Instagram with that? You can't do that, let alone do your work. He is being let down by this government. It is ironic that it's a government that pretends it cares about small business, when they are exactly the people the government pushed aside and said, 'You don't count,' when fibre to the node was rolled out to the upper Blue Mountains. That was a failed experiment. These people knew it was a failure, because they didn't roll it out to the lower mountains.

Labor will fix the upper mountains. We will make sure that anyone who wants it will be able to get it. Aaron did ask the question, 'How much would it be for me to get fibre to the premises under the Morrison government's plan?' He was given a neat figure: $12,500 was the quote he got for fibre to the premises. That is beyond his means. It's beyond the means of mums who need their kids to be able to access the internet for school. It's beyond the means of families where there's a student at university and that assignment is due and the fibre to the node is so slow that they can't connect. That's what those opposite have done to people living in the upper Blue Mountains.

It also applies to great swathes of the Hawkesbury. You've got 4,000 square kilometres in Macquarie and you've given them five different types of technology: satellite, wireless, some fibre to the premises—that would be when Labor was in government—fibre to the node and fibre to the curb. What happens to the satellite people? They're switching off. They are going to Elon Musk's Starlink satellites because they get such good speeds at the moment from that. But they have to pay, and it's only those who can afford to pay, which is the antithesis of what this program which was all about. This program was about equity, giving every Australian a fair go, a fair chance to make their way in the world, to build a small business no matter where they lived. Those on the other side have taken that away from people.

People who have wireless are left with this ridiculous technology that also doesn't meet their needs. I have one constituent who works for the NBN who refuses to connect to wireless. One hundred metres up the road people are on fibre to the curb but he can only get wireless. These are the sorts of stupid decisions that have been made by this government and the NBN, guided by nothing other than small mindedness without any vision.

I'm going to finish with the problems with fibre to the curb in the Blue Mountains in particular. When the storms hit and lightning strikes, it goes off. It disappears, little bits of ash come out of your box and your box is blown. We're told the new boxes are better. We're not seeing that. This government has let down everybody in the Blue Mountains.


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