Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters MP is today meeting with community members frustrated with the delay to the National Broadband Network (nbn) rollout.
“So much of our lives these days is online,” said Ms Chesters.
“Access to a quality, reliable broadband connection is just as vital as turning on the tap to get water. It has become an essential service.
“More constituents contact me about telecommunications than any other Federal Government matter and this is why I use every chance I get to raise this issue in Parliament, in the media and in the community.
“I have had countless meetings with nbn and ministerial advisors in the last three years and have hosted the Shadow Minister for Communications, Jason Clare MP, twice in the electorate. I have repeatedly invited both Ministers for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull and Mitch Fifield to visit Bendigo and Central Victoria to see for themselves the telecommunications crisis that exists here.
“Today is just one example of how the Liberal Government has failed to deliver on their 2013 pre-election nbn promise. The local residents here today have waited three years for the Eppalock tower to be turned on and frankly, they are understandably tired of waiting,” said Ms Chesters.
Timeline of Eppalock NBN tower delay
• September 2013 – Labor built the Eppalock nbn tower. The incoming Liberal Government scrapped Labor’s nbn plan and Bendigo fell off the rollout map.
• February 2015 – VCAT overturned planning approval for the critical Mt Camel relay tower.
• March-August 2015 – Ms Chesters had continued discussions with nbn and made repeated requests to meet with then Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull to try to discover what was being done to solve this problem.
• August 2015 – Ms Chesters wrote to all households impacted by the loss of the Mt Camel tower asking for feedback on their access to the internet.
• September 2015 – a meeting organised with Malcolm Turnbull to raise this issue was cancelled due to his bid for the role of Prime Minister.
• November 2015 – Ms Chesters wrote again to all households to update residents on the work she had been doing to advocate for a fast-tracked solution to get the Eppalock tower turned on.
• February 2016 – Ms Chesters wrote to the new Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield, to indicate that one year on since the VCAT decision with no solution was too long.
• March 2016 – Ms Chesters met with nbn representatives who provided assurances that a short term solution had been found and the towers would be turned on by mid-year.
• May 2016 – Election was called and the Government and nbn went into caretaker mode. And we are still waiting.