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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 10339


Mr TAYLOR (HumeAssistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation) (10:09): The soil is fertile up Wollondilly Shire way in my electorate. At Tahmoor and Buxton, the community gardens are flourishing. There are armies of volunteer green thumbs. Kids, families, retirees and people with disabilities tend to edible patches of wholesome goodness. At Buxton, it's a place to learn, inspire and have fun, while creating a financial way to support the garden as well as the community hall. At Tahmoor Uniting Community Garden, it is about the fresh air, having a laugh and getting your hands dirty. Both rely on volunteers—people like Sarhn McArthur-Gumbley, Max O'Connor, Terry Scanlon and Kerry Hawkins—to grow and harvest great produce for their local communities. There are many others. In fact, last year's census showed that more than 22,600 people in Hume did voluntary work through an organisation or a group in the 12 months through to census night. Almost 14,600 people provided unpaid assistance to a person with a disability. Hume is full of caring communities, and it is something that I'm fiercely proud of.

Camden Meals on Wheels, for example, has 73 volunteers and will need 95 or more by the end of the year to cater for the growing demand. I want to tip my hat to people like 80-year-old Ellie Cunningham, who has volunteered for 44 years for Meals on Wheels; 81-year-old Barbara Brown, a volunteer for 18 years; and Robert McCaughan, who is 86 and has volunteered for nine years. They help to deliver more than 600 meals a week—absolutely extraordinary!

Like Camden Meals on Wheels, the coalition keeps on delivering for my electorate. In the next few weeks, NBN fixed wireless towers will be switched on at Mount Hunter, Werombi and Werombi East, bringing fast broadband to another 570 homes and businesses. Another 400 premises will access the signal from towers which have just come online at Balmoral West, Bargo North and Hill Top South. We know that having access to reliable communications is critical, especially in regional areas, and we are delivering in these areas.

I was buoyed to learn during a recent visit to the rural villages of Tuena, Bigga and Binda in the west of my electorate that the local experience with the NBN Sky Muster satellite has been overwhelmingly positive. One couple from Bigga explained to me that they were making voice-over-IP calls to relatives over the satellite. Another couple were using Skype to talk to their kids, many, many miles away—fantastic feedback. And it will only get better, because from next month NBN will be doubling the Sky Muster monthly data limits. A majority of consumers and businesses on the service are expected to receive larger peak and off-peak plans—great news for the more than 2,000 customers.