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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12129


Mr HARTSUYKER (CowperMinister for Vocational Education and Skills and Deputy Leader of the House) (09:51): Last week nbn co announced the latest three-year rollout to accelerate the development of a superfast broadband service across the country and, in particular, in my electorate of Cowper. This plan demonstrates the coalition's commitment to closing the digital divide by providing fast internet to every home and business in rural and regional Australia by 2020. The release of this broadband construction plan gives certainty to businesses and residents across the North Coast, many of whom are dependent on reliable internet connections.

The coalition is committed to delivering faster broadband sooner—six years faster than the previous government's policy for all-fibre broadband. Labor's broadband policy was a cruel fantasy which promised things that simply could not be delivered. The coalition government has brought order to chaos, and we now see a concrete, realistic plan that will be delivered more than six years earlier than the Labor Party's model. After six years of Labor's waste and mismanagement, some 51,000 users were connected to the NBN fixed line service and wireless networks—an abysmal result. Now, more than 1.3 million homes and businesses can order an NBN service, and construction is underway to connections to some 700,000 homes and businesses. Around 600,000 premises already have an active connection and are enjoying the benefits of very fast broadband, and hundreds of thousands more will benefit from the accelerated roll out over the next three years.

Superfast broadband is important for the North Coast, and businesses will grow and flourish as a result of this development. Faster broadband will transform education, banking, health care and other critical online services and boost business competitiveness and growth potential for the North Coast and the rest of Australia. The broadband services that many metropolitan residents take for granted are yet to be experienced by those in areas across the Cowper electorate, such as Kempsey, Halfway Creek, Nambucca Heads, Dorrigo, Macksville, Woolgoolga and South West Rocks. So news of the nbn co's three-year rollout construction plan has certainly been well received, with some 26,400 North Coast homes and businesses eager to have that connection. Construction will start in the third quarter of next year, which is positive news for every business and residence in the rollout area. The latest NBN construction schedule continues till September 2018 and provides a detailed breakdown of when the network will be starting in specific locations across the North Coast and of the type of technology that will be used.

While I would like to see every residence and business connected just as soon as possible, the simple reality is that a project of this magnitude takes time. It is unfortunate that some residents will still have to wait some time for their connection, but a detailed plan is a far cry from the endless fantasy that we saw under the previous Labor government, where they gave this rather dubious title of 'construction underway', which was not indicative of how far the work had progressed.