House debates

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Constituency Statements

Parramatta Electorate: National Broadband Network

10:00 am

Photo of Julie OwensJulie Owens (Parramatta, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

There is yet another NBN disaster in the electorate of Parramatta. I'm going to talk about a young family and I will call the husband Abi—very close to his real name. They connected to the NBN in March 2020 after receiving a letter advising that existing connections would be decommissioned within 12 months. Previously they had an ADSL for around three to four years and they were quite happy with that service. They signed up for a 50-megabit plan, but when they connected they experienced slow speeds. They were told those would improve. Over time they tested their speeds and they never went above five to 10 megabits per second. They raised the issue with their provider and contacted other providers but they just kept getting told that the speeds were because of the poor quality of their NBN connection. They asked their provider to downgrade their plan to reflect their internet speed then, suddenly, the NBN went down altogether.

They switched to another provider, and the NBN is still down—as of 9 February. The NBN tech visited and said they are 1,200 metres from the node—that's over a kilometre from the node—and that the building should never have been declared NBN ready because so much work needed to be done. The technician said that they're called to the building every day. Abi and his family are at their wits' end. They're caring for young kids and on the phone all the time to service providers.

This is one of several stories that I'm getting in my electorate. It's exactly the same story: people are being told by technicians that they're more than a kilometre from the node and that their speed simply will not get better. Five to 10 megabits per second, when this government promised us all 50 by the end of 2016! Now, in 2021, this is what we've got.

We finally have the government recognising that fibre was the way to go in the first place and promising to roll out fibre upgrades for at least half the households which are currently on fibre to the node by 2022, just a year away. But so far they've only announced 47 places: in New South Wales that's Belmont North, Charlestown, Toronto, Carramar, Castle Hill, Holsworthy, Liverpool, Wetherill Park, Campbell Town, Elderslie, Narellan, Maitland, Singleton, Tarro, New Lambton, Bathurst and Orange. That's 47 places so far around the country and none, so far, around the electorate of Parramatta, even though we have people who are more than a kilometre from the node. I'm really hoping that the government gets its act together on this.

Of course, is worth noting that when this fibre does roll out down the streets—when they finally do roll out fibre down the streets—it's only going to be available to people who are prepared to pay the higher price for a faster internet connection. So it's going to roll past houses—down the footpath and past houses that can't afford to upgrade their connection. This is outrageous! What's been happening in the past is outrageous, what is happening now is outrageous and this new plan is just as ridiculous.