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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2138


Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (21:41): I rise today because the Gillard government disappoints me with respect to delivery of and access to the telephone and internet services that are essential communication tools for families and the business sector. This government fails the residents of Hasluck time and time again. Hasluck residents do not receive their fair share of government resources. This is particularly the case when it comes to the debacle that is the National Broadband Network.

The government tries to denigrate the coalition's broadband policy, but the coalition understands that there is a large need for upgrading broadband services in Australia. It is irresponsible for this government to suggest otherwise. Where we disagree is on the method and the cost of the upgrade. Minister Conroy talks about providing better access to broadband for the people of Australia, and that includes my electorate of Hasluck. However, this could have been rectified several years ago, for a fraction of the price, under the Howard government's OPEL plan, which the Labor government cancelled in 2008. This is another example of refusing a bipartisan approach to Australia's problems and dismantling an existing successful policy to swap it for one that does not work. We see this with the Gillard-Greens alliance's failed border protection policies.

The residents of Hasluck are continually expressing their anger at this waste by the government. Residents are so frustrated that they are calling my office every day to express their annoyance at not being able to access dial-up internet—or any internet at all. One small example of the concern comes from a care home resident in Forrestfield, who said about his intermittent internet signal, 'A more reliable and higher speed may become available under the NBN; however, when and if that should occur, there is a concern that it may incur a steep cost increase, which makes it unaffordable for me.'

Areas of chronic concern about a lack of broadband services are Southern River; Caversham, to the north of my electorate; Gooseberry Hill; and Martin. In Martin, when I was doorknocking recently, I met a constituent whose telephone and internet access comes through a wire that winds its way through the bush and along the road verge and then hangs through the trees to his front verandah. What is concerning for him is that his signal is intermittent. He is constantly calling Telstra to repair the line and give him access. More importantly, his daughter has an allergic reaction that can require urgent medical treatment. He finds, when there are storms or when the parrots come through, that his line is damaged, and it takes a few days to have that repaired. His frustration has been expressed several times to the provider. The WA member for Southern River, Mr Peter Abetz, MLA, has also been very vocal on this issue and I support him in his efforts to improve these services in this area. My constituents are constantly faced with the same response from Telstra when complaining about the lack of service to parts of Hasluck. Telstra says that upgrades to services will now not be taking place as the NBN will rectify gaps in services. Instead of speedy rectification, my constituents are waiting for the NBN to come to them. Sadly, there is no firm commitment from Minister Conroy about when the people of Hasluck will actually see the NBN. It is interesting that the corporate plan, on page 15 of the NBN Co. report, says:

A premise is passed/covered when the shared network and service elements are installed, accepted, commissioned and ready for service which then enables an end user to order and purchase a broadband service from their choice of retail service provider.

But the frustration for these constituents within the Hasluck electorate is that some of them are business owners and they rely very heavily on access through telephone and internet servicing. When these are limited it impacts on their efficiency and productivity and also in terms of the services that they provide to customers. Equally, people have paid their taxes. They expect governments to provide services. What is sad is that now Telstra no longer upgrades the service to them and provides the minimal level. In this day and age you would expect that we would certainly want to focus on those areas within the urban context that need the NBN broadband for both business and family use. I only hope that the minister speeds up the process so that access is available to all. (Time expired)