Regional telecommunications talk but no action

Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters MP, today said the Minister for Communications’ commitment to regional Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure is nothing but empty promises. 

Yesterday, Malcolm Turnbull released the long-awaited corporate plan which showed peak funding for the project would be ­between $46bn and $56bn. Yet, despite the cost blow-out, there is still little focus on the rollout of the National Broadband Network in Central Victoria. 

“Mr Turnbull is all talk and no action when it comes to reliable regional telecommunications. 

“We are in the midst of a telecommunications crisis here in Bendigo and Central Victoria. 

“It doesn't matter whether you’re on the farm or in town; local business and households are struggling to get the internet coverage they need to do the most basic tasks.” 

Ms Chesters said Central Victorians were currently being held back by inferior internet connections and that following yesterday’s announcement it looked set to get worse under the Federal Liberal Government. 

“The uncertainty of the current government on the NBN has meant any developments of the NBN or ADSL have ceased and left many people without basic communications infrastructure around central Victoria. 

“Many households try to get by on expensive and unreliable mobile broadband. This is not about accessing Skype or Netflix, this is about essential internet access for school kids, university students or local businesses - and mobile broadband does not meet these needs. 

“One local resident had to delay the completion of her MBA because she cannot download lecture notes and materials or participate in Skype classes. Another is worried for the safety of her family during bushfire season because she can’t check the CFA website for alerts or fires in her area. 

“Local businesses are suffering because they cannot operate online and several constituents have told me their plans to start a home business are on hold until this region has adequate broadband to make it viable. 

“I call on the Minister and Liberal Government to return to the original NBN rollout plan and that is fibre to the premises with construction and installation starting yesterday,” said Ms Chesters.