Government failure on NBN

Government failure on NBN Main Image

By Kristy McBain

30 November 2021

Having fast, reliable, good-quality internet should not be a luxury in 21st century Australia. It should not be something that only people who live in the cities can access, and it shouldn't be the case that two families that live in the exact same suburb should have vastly different internet access. But under this Liberal-National government that is exactly what has happened in Jerrabomberra, a suburb that is only 15 minutes from where we are right now. The fact is that some people who live in Jerrabomberra have had great NBN access and have for many years experienced fast, reliable internet connectivity. But there are also a lot of people in Jerrabomberra who were dudded when this government trashed the NBN model to move to a mix of fibre and copper. In one suburb it all came down to the luck of the draw as to why some people have access to 21st century technology while too many households do not.

Obviously, the Jerrabomberra community was frustrated and angry. The residents and families have been paying the same amount for a vastly different experience. Thankfully, the Jerrabomberra community didn't sit by and accept this ridiculous situation. They have stood up and made noise for over a decade now. They have called out this government for the rollout and demanded that they receive the same access as their neighbours and the wider Queanbeyan community. Now, after years, the NBN is finally being rolled out to Jerrabomberra. The government is having to go back and fix what it got wrong in the first place. This tired, decade-old Liberal-National government cannot be trusted when it comes to technology or broadband. They have deployed a network that cost twice as much but does half of what it's supposed to.

Labor had a vision and a plan to ensure Australia was a leader in the digital industry, not just a participant. But then this government came in and butchered the NBN rollout. For them it's always about short-term politics and never about the long-term progress of the Australian people. Big announcements, no follow-through and botched rollouts have become a legacy of the Morrison government. The government promised to save taxpayers money by cutting corners. They said they could deliver something just as good at half the cost. This is just another untruth. This government has delivered a masterclass in technological and economic incompetence. Australia is now ranked 59th in the world for average broadband speeds and is 32nd out of 37 OECD countries. It's almost unfathomable that the government has spent nearly nine years and $50 billion on a second-rate network. Rather than realising their mistake early on, they doubled down, launching tirade after tirade about fibre. Then, just like that, around the corner in Jerrabomberra they are crawling back to the very thing they argued against. This not only vindicates Labor's policy but proves something many Australians have long suspected to be the case: the Liberals get the big calls wrong.

When I decided to run for the seat of Eden-Monaro I was determined to make a difference to the lives of the people I now represent. I vowed to advocate for my communities to get the education, the infrastructure and the services they deserve. I represent a broad and varying electorate, but there's one thing that everyone agrees on, from Eden to Tumut, from Yass to Cooma, and just down the road in Queanbeyan: for our kids to get ahead, for them to learn and succeed into the future, they need access to reliable internet. This is no longer a want. This is no longer a luxury. This is a vital part of our lives, whether you are in the city or in regional Australia, and this has become even more apparent during lockdowns when our children were learning from home and parents were working from home.

Our communities need an NBN that works. This is why I'm proud to talk about Labor's plan for the NBN, because Labor has a plan that will benefit people in regional Australia. A Labor government will ensure 90 per cent of Australians in the fixed-line footprint—over 10 million premises—will have access to world-class gigabit speeds by 2025. Labor will keep the NBN in public hands, keeping internet costs for families affordable while ensuring improvements to the network take place. This is key. We cannot privatise something that is fast becoming a basic need.

In particular, Labor's expansion will benefit regional Australia, which you can see has been left behind by the Morrison-Joyce government. This is, quite frankly, on stark display following the COVID pandemic. Labor will provide up to 660,000 additional homes and businesses in our regions with access to optical fibre. This investment has the potential to transform the digital capability of our regions, grow our local businesses and industries, and attract more. This is something that will benefit and serve our regional communities for decades to come.