Thursday, 18 October 2018
National Broadband Network
When it was first announced, more than 10 years ago, the national broadband network was a visionary policy for a fast telecommunications network to bring Australia into the 21st century. But over the last five years the NBN has become a shambles. Today, as the member for Bass pointed out, the parliament had a taste of what many of my constituents experience on a regular basis: dropouts, slow connections; unacceptable service in the 21st century.
My office has received several complaints from people who have lost faith in the NBN. As we approach year 12 exams, with some people heading to exams today, I note that one of the most stressful things that can happen is your internet dropping out just as you're getting ready for that final exam in maths, chemistry, English or art. It's unacceptable, and the current government need to fix the mess they have created.
In my electorate of Perth, people who live in the inner city, just a couple of kilometres from the main exchanges of NBN Co. and Telstra, would expect to have reliable services. It's not the case. One small business owner who has contacted me is working mum Helen Curtis, who lives in Mount Lawley. She runs an art consultancy dealing with large files, helping people build public art and engage with artists across Australia and the world. Her home network on the NBN was dropping out 120 times a day. She had to deal with two different telecommunications companies. She paid to rewire her entire house at a cost of many hundreds of dollars, only to have NBN Co. say, 'It's still not working. We don't know what the problem is.' It's completely unacceptable. So Helen, after six months of losing business and losing time and money, has switched to a wireless satellite connection from a provider that is not on the NBN.
Customers are literally walking away from the mess that this current government has created. When it was launched, former Prime Minister Turnbull said, 'This is a much smarter approach.' He has very kindly left that quote on his website, malcolmturnbull.com.au, where all of his transcripts from his time as Prime Minister still appear. But it's not a smarter approach. In fact, to quote the current Prime Minister's preferred moral philosopher, Forrest Gump, 'Stupid is as stupid does,' and where the NBN is at the moment is completely stupid.
Helen is just one of thousands of Western Australian complainants who've lodged issues about the NBN with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in the last year. Complaints in 2015-16 to 2016-17 increased by 50 per cent, and 5,000 of those complaints were from Western Australia. It is time that the government listened to those complaints and acted to fix the national broadband network.