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Thursday, 16 August 2018
Page: 4999


Senator WATT (Queensland) (11:41): I recall this deeply informed speech that I was giving the other night for four minutes—closer to six, by the look of it—so I'm very happy to continue my remarks on the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Bill 2018 and the Telecommunications (Regional Broadband Scheme) Charge Bill 2018.

Senator Jacinta Collins interjecting

Senator WATT: Indeed. As I recall, I was reflecting last time on the great distress that so many regional Queenslanders in particular have experienced with the poor rollout of the NBN under the Turnbull government. I was reflecting the other night on the level of complaints that I and my office receive both from regional Queensland and on the Gold Coast, where my electorate office is, from both households and businesses about the poor service that they're receiving from the NBN. The complaints that we receive on an incredibly regular basis go to two issues. The first type is from people who, after all this time, are still waiting for the NBN to be connected at their home or their business, and the second type of complaint that we receive on an all too regular basis is from people who have the NBN, but the service that they receive is extremely poor.

I don't have the exact statistics in front of me, but I remember very well that there are still many parts of the Gold Coast—that large and growing city, the second biggest city in Queensland—that are still waiting for NBN connections to be installed. When you get around the Gold Coast and talk to people about this, you hear that it's having a really big impact on their business competitiveness. From a household perspective, it also continues to affect businesses because of the large number of home-based businesses on the Gold Coast, but it's also as simple as children being able to do their assignments and homework for school and university students being able to submit assignments. So it is having a very direct impact on people's lives.

In some ways the even more distressing complaints that we receive regularly from residents and businesses both on the Gold Coast and in regional Queensland are from people who do have the NBN installed but are greatly affected by the poor level of service that they are now receiving. We receive a range of complaints from people who have bought a particular NBN package and are paying a certain amount on a monthly basis for certain download speeds, but their download speeds don't even get close to reaching what they're paying for. Understandably, people are very disappointed that they're paying for a service that they're not receiving.

I remember, for instance, a gentleman by the name of Max, who runs a refrigeration business on the northern Gold Coast, who has paid for an NBN service. He's a small-business operator and relatively new in business, so he's not exactly flush with cash. He's paying for an NBN service to receive a particular download speed, but he has pretty much given up on that, and he's now running his business off the personal hotspot on his own mobile phone because that supplies him with a more regular and reliable and quicker download speed than he gets from the NBN package he is paying for.

When it comes to regional Queensland, I remember a few months ago spending some time in Central Queensland, particularly in Rockhampton. I hosted a roundtable about the NBN with our shadow minister for regional communications—

Debate interrupted.