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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8331

Broadband


Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (14:58): My question is to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy. Can the minister provide an update to the Senate on the community response to the 12-month rollout of the National Broadband Network announced by the Prime Minister in the Illawarra on 18 October?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:58): I thank the senator for his question. When the Prime Minister attended the University of Wollongong to announce the 12-month construction rollout for the NBN, it was an important day for all of the sites announced but particularly so for the Illawarra region. We saw a major expansion of construction across two sites, in Dapto and Wollongong, which will see nearly 11,000 premises gain access to the NBN fibre services. This is of course in addition to the 5,200 premises where constr­uction is underway in the Kiama township and the Jamberoo area and the 2,500 premises that are now ready for service in the Kiama Downs-Minnamurra region.

What was the local reaction? In an editorial the next day, the Illawarra Mercury said:

… it was a good day for Wollongong.

They went on to say:

… we believe the generations ahead will look back and see the roll-out as an example of enlightened thinking.

And, in the Illawarra, we are finally seeing in some tangible ways how our "old economy" can be transformed to the benefit of everyone.

More recently, the Illawarra Mercury quoted a local Mangerton boy, Mr Nabil Naghdy, who now works for Google as a technology strategist, who suggested Wollongong would be transformed into our version of Silicon Valley. He said:

The rollout of the NBN is kind of like the platform for Wollongong. It's no longer a mining town - it could turn into Silicon Valley Australia …

(Time expired)


Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (15:01): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister please inform the Senate of any other statements of support for the 12-month rollout schedule in areas that are due to see construction?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (15:01): Coffs Harbour is one area that understands the benefits of the NBN. With construction underway for the 5,800 premises and an additional 13,200 premises announced, along with the 8,000 premises at Sawtell, the combined tally for the local area stands at just under 28,000 premises. In the Coffs Coast Advocate on 1 November, local councillor Jenny Bonfield said: 'One of the most exciting things to happen in Coffs Harbour is the imminent rollout of the high-speed broadband.' Councillor Bonfield also recognised that the council had a responsibility in harnessing the NBN's potential, saying: 'Success for our region relies on building our digital awareness and capacity. High-speed broadband is a catalyst that will transform how we'— (Time expired)


Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (15:02): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister further advise the Senate of any additional views on the NBN?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (15:02): Mr President, it saddens me that those in the far corner in the National Party have sold the doormats, have sold out and have sold the souls of their rural and regional constituents in opposing world-class technology being deployed in their local areas, all while supporting Malcolm Turnbull's position—

The PRESIDENT: You need to refer to people by their—

Senator CONROY: sorry, Mr Turnbull's position—to abolish uniform wholesale pricing and suggest that people in the country can have a voucher. That is your alternative. Back on 7 April 2009, Senator Joyce, of all people, lauded the NBN, claiming it as his own. Here is Senator Joyce's quote:

How could we disagree with something that is quite evidently our idea …

Senator Nash even joined in, and she said:

The plan then was to roll out fibre optic cable which the government would lease to service providers—

(Time expired)

Senator Chris Evans: Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper. In doing so, I pass on the government senators' congratulations to Senator Fifield on the birth of his son.