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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 208


Ms RYAN (LalorOpposition Whip) (19:40): I rise tonight to speak once again, at my first opportunity back in the chamber after the election, about the NBN in the electorate of Lalor. I am inspired to do so because last week I got very excited when I received the report Measuring Australia's digital divide on email. I thought: 'This will be a good document. No doubt it will document what is happening in my electorate.' I was incredibly disappointed to find that the digital divide that is described in the report might accurately describe the divide between city and the regions, it might accurately describe lots of things, but it does not describe the digital divide it in the electorate of Lalor.

In Lalor we are in a growth corridor. The city of Wyndham has over 200,000 residents and is growing at the rate of knots. That means it is caught in this digital divide, caught in the marriage between what the NBN was designed to roll out in new stock and the hybrid system that this government is determined to deliver. It is caught where we have new buildings that are waiting for the NBN, some for as long as two years.

This is highlighted to me by residents all the time. Once again this week the local paper ran a story on access to the internet in the city of Wyndham. The story's headline was 'No ports in internet storm', referencing, of course, another of our critical issues, which is that we have people moving into our suburbs—moving into Tarneit, Point Cook, Wyndham Vale, Manor Lakes and Williams Landing—where they have been told there is access to high-speed internet, access to the NBN, only to find that there are not enough ports in those suburbs for them even to access ADSL1. This is highly concerning for the residents moving into the area and for those who have now been waiting for a long time to get access to high-speed internet.

This is compounded by the assumption in our world that people do have this access. There is an assumption by government departments, such as Centrelink, and job agencies, who tell people, 'You just go online and apply for jobs.' Our assumptions about what we are rolling out do not match the lived experience of the residents in my communities; they do not match it at all. I highlight the experience of Christie Downey, who today messaged me on Facebook to say: 'I've been trying for over 18 months to get a broadband connection in my house with absolutely no luck or help from anyone. I have school-aged children that need access to the internet, and I am also trying to study and need it as well. Pocket wi-fi is ridiculously expensive and so is extra data on your mobile. Telstra keeps telling me to wait for the NBN, which could take years.' I repeat that: 'which could take years'.

Terry Konstandalis also commented, when I shared the local newspaper story today, that it is 'just another example where conservative rhetoric is totally at odds with the lived experience'. I bring this to the chamber's attention tonight because it is critical that in this place we understand people's lived experience; that we understand we are creating expectations. We do not have to look far to see that after the census disaster, where the expectation was that across this country people would be able to go online and complete their census. People in Werribee South organised to go to their children's homes in other suburbs because they do not get any internet in Werribee South.

We are fast building this divide, and it is not fair. I will take a moment to think about how we got to this place where we have a divide in suburbs in our metropolitan areas. We do not have to look far to find the Prime Minister, who was responsible for the NBN when he was communications minister. We can now look back and see that the Prime Minister doubled the costs, doubled the rollout time and has dropped us from the 30th-fastest country for internet speeds to the 60th-fastest. (Time expired)