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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12351

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (21:20): Before the last election Tony Abbott promised to trash Labor's NBN, and that is a promise he has kept. Labor's NBN was due to be under construction in the suburbs around Parramatta right now—22,000 homes in Mays Hill, Parramatta, South Wentworthville, Westmead and Harris Park were due to have fibre to the home rolling out right now. This rollout has been cancelled by the Abbott government and the hope for a first-rate NBN is gone. But they did promise to build a second-rate NBN and that it would be available to everyone by the end of 2016 with a much slower minimum speed of 25 megabits per second. Now they have broken that promise. Not one suburb in the electorate of Parramatta is on the list for the second-rate NBN—not one.

After scrapping the NBN infrastructure upgrade for our community, what have they left us with? To get a clear picture I asked the community of Parramatta to tell me how fast their internet speeds are. Hundreds of local households, schools, community groups and businesses sent me their upload and download speeds, confirming that internet speeds in Parramatta just aren't good enough. We saw download speeds as low as one megabit per second, barely enough for a few interactive web pages and standard streaming on one device. One local family in Merrylands has a dismal download speed of just .14 megabits per second. Nearly half of the respondents had download speeds of less than five, speeds suitable for the basics—file sharing small files only, internet streaming, some basic email and web browsing with one user only; not suitable for working from home or for multiple users. Another quarter had download speeds between five and 15; but, if you think about the modern household with multiple users and devices connected to one line, these speeds are woefully inadequate. Malcolm Turnbull promised a minimum of 25 megabits per second by the end of 2016. Only 10 per cent of people in my electorate who responded had downloads speeds of more than 25 megabits per second.

And it is not just households that we should be worried about. I had businesses, schools and those working from home telling me just how difficult it is becoming to operate efficiently. A carpet centre in Pendle Hill with download speeds of 6.7 megabits per second says it is fast becoming not enough for their day-to-day business needs. Jackson, a Maryland resident, told me how difficult it was for him to work from home with his download speed of 2.8 megabits per second despite being very close to the Parramatta exchange. A local school told me that, when they did not get the NBN, they had to install four cable connections and one ADSL connection to make do.

The minister does not get the internet. He talks of the need for download speeds of 15 megabits per second in 10 years, and that is not even fast enough for current domestic television streaming, let alone all the new interactive uses—e-health, education, working from home, smart houses. All these uses need not just more download speed but faster upload speed. The word 'upload' does not even pass the minister's lips, because it cannot be delivered in his model. Seventy per cent of the people who responded to my survey had upload speeds of less than one megabit per second, and 95 per cent had upload speeds of less than two. For comparison, Russia has upload speeds of on average 25 megabits per second, China 11.4, Mongolia 13.7, Japan 26.2, New Zealand 9.6 and Parramatta less than two.

It is not just about video downloads or internet browsing; this is about the technology of the future and equipping Parramatta city and surrounds to be a hub for business, health, education and community. We cannot afford to be waiting for high-speed broadband. Waiting is bad for productivity, bad for the economy and bad for our community. Investing in a real national broadband network is essential for the people of Parramatta, and I am asking the government: when will Parramatta get a real NBN? When will Parramatta, the capital of the third-largest economy in Australia, an incredibly large CBD that struggles with download speeds of less than five megabits per second and upload speeds of less than one for most people, an extraordinarily important CBD, get a real NBN? When will we get the infrastructure that we need to prosper?

The SPEAKER: I call the member for Boothby.