House debates

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Constituency Statements


10:37 am

Photo of David FeeneyDavid Feeney (Batman, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Justice) Share this | | Hansard source

The Minister for Communications, the current Prime Minister, promised all Australians that they would have access to download speeds of between 25 and 100 megabits per second by the end of 2016.

An opposition member: When?

The end of 2016.

An opposition member: Wow!

An opposition member: How's that going?

Sadly, the Prime Minister's outdated infrastructure model has resulted in the collapse of this lofty ideal. As the NBN rollout is using tired copper technology, it continues to be struck with delays, and examples abound of failed availability and dismal speeds. Adding to consumer frustration is the lesser known difficulty of gaining ADSL access while waiting and waiting and waiting for the NBN. Remarkably, in my electorate of Batman, residents of Reservoir, a suburb a mere 13 kilometres from Melbourne's CBD, have had to play pot luck with ADSL access. Reservoir, the largest suburb in Melbourne, now finds itself unable to establish ADSL connections on demand. With the combined predicted NBN connection in early 2018 and the suburb's growth, constituents now have been left without any connection as they wait for an ADSL port to become available. Who would believe that people moving to a suburb like Reservoir in the city of Melbourne, a global city, would be told: 'Sorry, there are no ports available. You will not have internet access'?

What is happening here is that, while Telstra, on the one hand, is uninterested in investing in expanding capacity in a suburb that is supposed to have the NBN by early 2018, families moving into the suburb of Reservoir are told they will have to wait for a family to leave before they can get access to a port—so, one in, one out. For families that rely on the internet—and, as we know, that is an ever-growing proportion of our people, and the Prime Minister used to boast this was part of the economy that he cherished—this can be catastrophic. Families, who rely on the internet for income and for assisting with education of their school-aged children, small businesses, innovators and part-time consultants—all of these people—have been devastated by the failure of this government to live up to its rhetoric.

While Telstra says it's working towards increasing the number of ADSL ports and NBN says it will be there by 2018, the people of Reservoir are left without choices. However, for those who are connected, the incoherence of the service they receive is staggering. Another distressed constituent, Mrs Pozzi, who is 83 years of age and living in Northcote, was alarmed when she was contacted by NBN and told the internet was coming and it would cost her $200 a year. She was most upset that she would have to pay this when she didn't want the internet and doesn't own a computer. In the northern part of my electorate, they can't get internet access and, in the southern half of my electorate, they are conscripted to it.