Monday, 2 May 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Regional Communications, Senator Nash. Could the minister please update the Senate on the progress of the NBN rollout in regional areas? How is this supported by the recent announcement of Sky Muster broadband services?
I thank Senator McKenzie for her question and note her very longstanding hard work in this area. As somebody that lives in a rural community, I know how important high-quality broadband is to those people in rural and regional communities, who very much need access to this service. Whether it is a what farmer in Mallee, a small business in Mildura or perhaps even the development of a groundbreaking application by a student in Bendigo, fast and affordable broadband is a key enabler for regional growth.
I recently had the pleasure of launching the Sky Muster satellite with the Minister for Communications and want to acknowledge the very great work he has done in improving communications for people right across this country. The recent switch-on of these services will provide fast, reliable and affordable services to homes, farms and businesses in rural and remote communities. NBN has engaged a number of companies to assist with the transition of services from the interim satellite to the Sky Muster service and to connect new end users to satellite broadband. And this milestone will mark that Australians, no matter where they live, will have access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband services.
And, of course, this is part of the government's approach to making sure that we have services to more than eight million homes by 2020. The satellite service will allow connections to around 400,000 premises, and nbn expects up to 250,000 people to take advantage of this service, which will, of course, provide that high-capacity service for farms, homes and businesses to access those digital services and transact business over the internet more easily, creating new jobs, growth and opportunities.
I can also indicate to the chamber the great work around the speeds that the Sky Muster will provide: up to 25 megabits per second, which is going to be a great enabler. The satellite and the fixed wireless network have been a capital investment of $5.2 billion into rural and regional areas—
Senator McKenzie interjecting—
I will take Senator McKenzie's interjection: that is 'absolutely fantastic'. Recently the fixed wireless network on the NBN has seen 100,000 active services, which is a fantastic achievement and very much appreciated by those people.
Opposition senators: Fantastic!
I will take the interjection from those opposite, who indeed are saying 'fantastic', so clearly they agree! We know that the combination of the NBN satellite and the NBN fixed wireless are going to deliver never-before-seen services to many parts of the country. (Time expired)
It is those in the coalition that understand that regional communications enable incredible growth and investment for regional businesses and entrepreneurs. To complement the government's investment in the NBN we have invested $100 million in the Mobile Black Spot Program, leveraging funding of up to $385 million for 499 new or upgraded base stations across the rural and regional areas, dramatically improving mobile coverage. Indeed, there is $60 million for round 2, which is ongoing. This is in absolute contrast to those opposite, because how much did they put towards a black spot program? Perhaps $100 million? Perhaps $50 million? Perhaps $20 million? Not one cent. Zero. Nada. Not one dollar towards a black spots program. That shows the very clear line between the coalition, who are delivering, and the opposition, who cannot.