Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Communities across my electorate are absolutely fed up—fed up with the dodgy, unreliable second-rate NBN. Not a week goes by when my office doesn't get a call from a frustrated constituent asking for help. I hear of terrible experiences with the NBN, including dropouts, missed appointments, dodgy lines and—can you believe it—homes that still aren't on the NBN rollout map, let alone getting a connection.
Last year I received a letter from NBN Co telling me that residents of Waterside Pastures, an estate in Medowie, not too far from my electorate office, will receive NBN via the Sky Muster satellite technology. This works when stations across the country beam internet up to the satellite, which then beams it down again to a dish attached to a home. It used to connect Australians in regional and remote areas, where no other NBN connection technology is practical.
My electorate of Paterson is less than half an hour from Newcastle. Newcastle is the second-biggest city in New South Wales and the seventh-largest in the country—hardly a rural and remote place. Medowie is not remote, and, contrary to the purpose of Sky Muster satellite, there are other practical options. In fact, there is a NBN line just one kilometre away from Waterside Pastures, and there are properties that are three kilometres away getting more reliable fibre-to-the-curb technology. Medowie is a suburb of over 9,000 people, who are all entitled to decent NBN connections to study, to do their homework, to run their small businesses and to stay in contact.
In the letter that NBN Co wrote to me, they state: 'This decision was not made lightly. Satellite is the only option we currently have to serve the community and meet the statement of expectations provided to us by the government.' Well, let me be clear today, as this letter was clear to me: the decision is a result of the coalition government, not NBN Co. I have written to the Minister for Communications urging him to intervene and extend the fixed line network so that my community in Medowie isn't left in the Dark Ages. I look forward to his response, and I look forward to passing it on to the people of Medowie.
The national broadband network is broken. My community know it is broken, and they are suffering. Like everyone else in Australia, residents in Medowie deserve access to decent internet connections. After six years of this dysfunctional government, the only thing that will fix the NBN is a Shorten Labor government.