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Regional Australians concerned about rising broadband costs under Labor's NBN

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Luke Hartsuyker MP

Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, Shadow Minister for Youth and Sport Federal Member for Cowper

Media Contact: Greg Pierce 02 66 52 62 33 0408 532 785 Canberra: 62 77 4447

July 6, 2011

Regional Australians concerned about rising broadband costs under Labor’s NBN Regional Australians are becoming aware of the true cost of broadband under Labor’s Nation Broadband Network (NBN), Shadow Minister for Regional Communications Luke Hartsuyker said today.

Mr Hartsuyker was commenting on media reports where low income householders said they did not want to pay more under the NBN.

“It is clear the packages being offered to NBN customers cost substantially more than what millions of Australians are currently paying for broadband services,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“I have been contacted by many regional Australians who say their current broadband service meets their needs and they don’t want to pay one extra dollar under the NBN,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“Many of these people are from low income households who simply can’t afford to be slugged with a hike in their broadband bill.

“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 34 per cent of households with income of less than $40,000 don’t have internet access as opposed to 5 per cent of households where income is above $120,000.

“For low income households a broadband connection is a substantial discretionary spending item which many families are willing to pay so their children and grandchildren can get online.

“But these people simply can’t afford to pay more. This is not surprising in regional areas where there are many pensioners, carers and single parent families. These are people who live week to week and are suffering as a result of the rising cost of living.”

Mr Hartsuyker said he supported the provision of faster broadband in regional areas but questioned the Gillard Government approach.

“The take-up of wireless is booming and yet the Gillard Government wants to roll out optic fibre past the homes of 93 per cent of Australia without submitting the project to a true cost benefit analysis.

“When you have people saying they are quite happy with their current broadband service the question must be asked why does the Government need to spend $50 billion to deliver a network for which there is not strong demand?

“The reality is that high speed broadband could be delivered to all Australians for a fraction of the cost of the NBN and the money saved could be invested in other infrastructure priorities,” Mr Hartsuyker said.