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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12040

Mr WILSON (O'Connor) (16:10): I represent the electorate of O'Connor which covers roughly one-third of regional Western Australia. I am very proud of my state. We produce about 10 per cent of the nation's GDP. But we do produce 55 per cent of the country's mercantile exports. And all those mercantile exports are produced in the very remote regions of my electorate. If we can review where we were with regard to the NBN in September 2013, in my electorate of O'Connor not one premises had been passed or was planned to be passed by the National Broadband Network. So it is with great delight that I can report to the House today that we now have 6,238 premises that have access to the National Broadband Network. That is a remarkable turnaround in two years, and I congratulate the previous minister for communications, now Prime Minister Turnbull. It has been an extraordinary turnaround and one that I have been very proud to be a part of.

Not only have we got 6,900 premises which are currently able to be connected to the NBN, over the next three years we will have a further 49,640 premises across O'Connor that will be able to connect to the National Broadband Network. That includes the major regional city of Kalgoorlie, where the build will commence in 2016, and the major city of Albany, where the build will begin in 2017.

This is critical infrastructure for a region that produces a lot of the nation's wealth. But the NBN, if I can digress for a moment, is just one part of the communications jigsaw puzzle in my electorate. Of course mobile telephone reception is another big part of that communications jigsaw puzzle. I just want to mention the government's mobile phone black spot program. Under the previous government, while they were prepared to invest $43 billion in the National Broadband Network—which was fine, and I echo the former Treasurer's comments this morning that it is a good concept and a nation-building project that we needed—within that time period, not one single dollar was spent on a mobile phone network. So the communications minister, who was parliamentary secretary at the time, Paul Fletcher, had a program to cover mobile phone black spots worth $100 million. That is not a great deal of money in the scheme of things compared to the National Broadband Network, but, with some very good work by Parliamentary Secretary Fletcher at the time, he has managed to leverage in Western Australia $22 million of federal money into $58 million worth of investment in the mobile phone network, which has resulted in 60 new mobile phone towers in my electorate of O'Connor. So it is a fantastic result once again for the people of O'Connor.

As I became the new member for O'Connor and set up my office and started to have constituents' inquiries come in, it became obvious very early that the people who were being serviced by the interim satellite service were very, very unhappy. This was the interim satellite service set up under the previous NBN administration. They had bought what they thought was capacity for 250,000 customers. By the time we got to 48,000 customers, the capacity was all but used up and the speed had slowed down to, in some cases, worse than dial-up. I have had a consistent and ongoing problem with this satellite service, and I am very pleased to say that the launch of the new satellite, Sky Muster 1, two weeks ago is great news for my electorate. I have 2,300 people on the interim satellite service. O'Connor has the largest number of people on the interim satellite service. It is great news that the satellite is up and is being commissioned. As of February next year, people will be able to transition to that new satellite service. That is great news that I can now pass back to the constituents in my electorate. Not only will the 2,300 who are on the interim satellite service benefit but it is estimated that 5,000 to 7,000 other people will access the satellite service when it is available.

The last thing I want to say is that we have heard a lot of criticism about the fibre-to-the-node technology mix that the government is promoting. I have heard of speeds of up to 90 megabits per second being achieved under the satellite-to-the node system. As a farmer myself and someone who often has capital projects where you are constrained by capital and time, you build a project that you can add on to. Surely, if we build a fibre-to-the-node system, at some later stage in the future we can expand and improve that program as technology moves on.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): The discussion has concluded.