Saturday, 2 November 2013

NBN: What Tony Abbott's digital illiteracy means for rural and regional Australia

Australian Minister for Communications Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, the man Prime Minister Abbott insisted (in a breathtaking display of digital ignorance) virtually invented the Internet, has ground the National Broadband Network rollout to a halt.

Leaving rural and regional Australia, its communities and businesses, on the other side of an ever-widening digital divide.

Financial Review 31 October 2013:

Construction firms building the national broadband network have told sub-contractors they will have to wait up to five months before receiving more work, as the rollout of fibre optic cabling grinds to a halt.
NBN Co revealed that in October a 10th of its standard workload was carried out. Small work crews physically rolling out fibre cabling along streets and into homes say they will need to cut dozens of staff if there is no further work.
The company managing the rollout revealed on Tuesday that just a third of the more than 900,000 homes it planned to pass with fibre over the next 12 months would finish construction. It would not issue contracts to construct the remaining 600,000 existing premises where network build had not yet begun, prompting criticisms from Labor and community groups....

Rather predictably Nationals MP for Cowper and Assistant Minister for Employment, Luke Hartsuyker, is attempting to deny reality - blaming the former Labor government for what the Abbott Government is doing.

According to him; "The Coalition is committed to being honest with Australians about the NBN rollout. We will implement the policy that we took to the election." [The Daily Examiner,1 November 2013,p3]

In March 2013 Hartsuyker stated on his own website that; Up to two million Australian households cannot get decent fixed-line high speed broadband...Regional Australia stands to benefit more than most from the rollout of high speed broadband...The Coalition’s broadband policy will put a priority on rolling out high speed broadband to those communities where it is needed most... 

Eliminating over half a million homes/businesses across the country from the fibre-to-the-premises high speed broadband connection rollout, with no indication if they will be included in any rollout of fibre-to-the-node, does not appear to be meeting the election promises made by the Nationals to NSW North Coast voters.

In the Clarence Valley alone, an estimated 51,346 men, women and children in 23,873 homes now have no idea if or when the National Broadband Network will reach them.

Nationals MP for Page, Kevin Hogan, is yet to make comment.

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