Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Regional Communications, Senator McKenzie. Can the minister update the Senate on what the coalition government is doing to deliver reliable internet to some of the most remote parts of Australia, including my home state of Western Australia?
Thank you, Senator Smith, for your question and also for your deep and abiding interest in ensuring that your home state of WA is digitally connected. The coalition government are absolutely committed to connecting regional Australia, and no other party has delivered the telecommunications connectivity gains that we have since 2013. It is vital that regional Australians have the telecommunications infrastructure that they need to compete on the international stage when it comes to agriculture, trade, business and technology. That connectivity is so key to delivering the health services that rural and regional Australians deserve and need. Instantaneous telehealth support for our most isolated Australians, a key enabler, was part of our drought announcements last week, whether they are on farms or busy in small business, or they are families.
Telecommunications infrastructure is the next frontier of infrastructure investment that the National Party is focused on. It's as important as inland rail, highways and our ports. We've invested $1.9 billion to deliver the Sky Muster network, and this is an unprecedented investment in getting regional Australia connected. The carbon satellites are state of the art and deliver download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second. This government will not let regional Australia fall behind in this vital area. It's the next big ticket for our economic growth. This government is committed to providing homes and businesses with the same service in areas that traditional fibre technology can't reach. Over 43 premises in regional WA are now connected, and the rollout of the NBN is 81 per cent complete in WA. Since this government took office, there have been an additional 59,000 premises able to access Sky Muster. This means that no matter where you live in the great state of Western Australia—a state so large that it's in the top 10 countries in the world on size—you can get connected. Connection means opportunities, it means innovations, it means education, it means local jobs.
The coalition is committed to providing homes and businesses served by the Sky Muster satellites with access to peak wholesale download speeds of up to 25 megabits per second. In October 2017, NBN doubled the maximum monthly wholesale data limits for its satellite services and increased average peak data downloads by 50 per cent. Retailers have passed on the additional data at a minimal extra cost to consumers. As a former teacher myself, I want to draw the Senate's attention to NBN's distance education satellite. This is a product that provides a separate 25-down, five-up megabytes per second service with a monthly download limit of 50 gigabytes per student. Unlike the Western Australia Labor government, we actually value all students equally, no matter where they live, and our distance satellite supports our children in the far-flung corners of WA. Sky Muster supports these students. This is just a small example of how we are investing in technology that makes a difference.
Thank you, Senator Smith. Put simply, there is no viable alternative. Satellites are the most effective technology to deliver fast broadband in difficult-to-serve premises, including remote areas, and Australia has led the world since the 1960s with satellite technology. This is not an area that we simply set and forget; we're continually improving it, making sure that regional Australians have access to cutting-edge technology.
Today, 88,000 satellite dishes have been installed around Australia, providing homes and businesses access to much needed fast broadband. We created—I'll say it—one of the first national satellite communication systems in the world, which paved the way for the regional communications revolution. We are backing regional Australia through continual investment in digital— (Time expired)