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Labor's broadband leaves regional Australia unconnected.



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Warren Truss Leader of The Nationals Shadow Minister for Trade, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Federal Member for Wide Bay

M E D I A R E L E A S E

W o r k i n g h a r d , g e t t i n g r e s u l t s

Media contact: Paul Chamberlin 0419 233989 / 02 6277 4482 paul.chamberlin@aph.gov.au www.nationals.org.au

5 November 2008

Labor’s broadband leaves regional Australia unconnected

Labor’s ill-considered National Broadband Network election promise is in ruins and people living in regional Australia are unlikely to see higher speed broadband for many years, Leader of The Nationals, Warren Truss, said today.

Mr Truss said delivering fast broadband communications via fibre optic cable to 98 percent of Australians was Labor’s flagship election commitment to regional Australia.

“On election to office, Labor cancelled the $1 billion OPEL contract which would have been delivering fast broadband services to regional communities by now,” Mr Truss said. “Instead, Labor is offering $4.7 billion as a subsidy to a fibre optic network estimated to cost as much as $25 billion.

“After a six-month delay, tenders will close for the supply of the network in three weeks time. But there may be no tenderers.

“Telstra has said it will only tender if it is guaranteed windfall profits and the alternative Terria consortium has lost three of its partners. If Telstra were to win the contract, they say that it would take five years to build the network in the five major capital cities and another three years before regional communities would benefit. What’s worse, the speeds on offer would be less than most city people are already able to access.”

Mr Truss said any successful tenderer should be required to service regional areas first.

“If the Government’s contribution is to be worth anything, it must be directed to delivering fast broadband speeds to those who don’t have them now. What a waste if the taxpayers $4.7 billion is squandered on simply duplicating fibre optic cables in the cities which will deliver slower broadband speeds than are already available.

“Labor has bungled its broadband policy and country Australians are already suffering.

“A sweetheart deal with Telstra which delivers more profits to Telstra but no new services to regional Australians would be farcical.”

Mr Truss said the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, owed the people of regional Australia an explanation. Senator Conroy cancelled the OPEL contract but he has nothing to offer regional Australians as an alternative.

“When will regional Australia get Labor’s broadband and how much will it cost?”