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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6431

Ms COLLINS (12:45 PM) —The government has made provision in this budget for the National Broadband Network, and Tasmania will be leading the way. Certainly, in my home state of Tasmania, people are thrilled about the announcement that Tasmania will be leading the nation under the National Broadband Network, and it has received wide public support, because at the moment Tasmania does not lead the nation when it comes to broadband. In fact, about 39 per cent of Tasmanian households currently have access to broadband compared to the national average of over 50 per cent. It is appalling, and that is the legacy that the former government left to my constituents in Franklin.

I too, like the previous Labor speaker, the member for Leichhardt, have had many complaints from my constituents, ringing up and contacting my office, about just how difficult it is to get broadband connected. I am talking about places that are 10 minutes from a capital city but currently cannot access broadband services. Even if they can, the services cost outrageous amounts of money. They are via satellite. They are very difficult to access, and this is in places that are 10 minutes away from a capital city.

The Rudd government has obviously taken the initiative with the National Broadband Network. It is a large investment. In Tasmania the proposal has come from the state government to the federal government for Tasmania to lead the rollout of the National Broadband Network because we have done some work ourselves as a state on broadband and we already have a backbone of fibre in the ground today that has never been connected up. This broadband network will improve services greatly for Tasmania. Industry in Tasmania; IT specialists; doctors, in terms of the diagnostic services that can be provided through telehealth; and certainly education leaders, in terms of rural classrooms and regional students who will be able to access online classrooms live, will see big improvements to rural and regional areas in Tasmania that would only be delivered under the Rudd government’s Broadband Network, so it has been very well received.

The other services that are currently delivered in Tasmania through federal and state government service delivery will be very different under the Broadband Network. I do not think that many Tasmanians or some of the media in Tasmania yet understand completely what this will mean for Tasmanians and how it will transform our lifestyles. I want to ask the minister whether or not he can provide us with an update on progress on the rollout in Tasmania. I know that Tasmanians are very keen to know when this rollout might start and whereabouts it might start, if we have any answers to that at this stage. As I said, apparently only 39 per cent of Tasmanians currently have access to broadband compared to the national average of over 50 per cent, and they are really keen to get this broadband network coming out in Tasmania as soon as possible. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the state government on working with the federal government to deliver services to the people of Tasmania and to my electorate of Franklin.