NBN and Blackspots in Burt

Federation Chamber - Constituency Statement - 16 August 2018

Watch Matt's Speech here

Mr KEOGH (Burt) (10:00): The absence of connectivity has a profound effect on social and economic inclusion, and in many parts of the country—indeed, many parts of my electorate—it could literally be a matter of life and death. Across the country, the NBN rollout has been embarrassing. People were told they were going to be connected to this fantastic network by the end of 2016. Now we're hearing that many people won't be connected for years yet. In the electorate of Burt the rollout of the NBN has been pitiful. Residents have been told for the last five years that their NBN is two years away. Now many residents won't be connected until 2021. Given this government's record on NBN, who would know if that connection will be worth the copper it's connected to?

My office received a call last week from a family whose NBN connection has been connected and, like so many through fibre to the node, is highly unreliable. The household is located, like much of my electorate, in a mobile black spot zone. The house is also located in a bushfire-prone area. In the case of a bushfire, these homeowners wouldn't have any method to communicate with the outside world—no home phone, no mobile phone and no internet connection if the power goes out.

In my electorate, the Haynes, Hilbert, Kelmscott, Thornlie and Canning Vale areas all have mobile black spots. With the NBN rollout, we can see that a vast majority of the properties in these areas—indeed, across my entire electorate—are using fibre-to-the-node technology or the service is yet to commence at all. This means that, in the time of a blackout or perhaps a storm, given that these nodes seem to be so prone to filling with water, these residents will have no communication with the outside world at all. These homes will not have the same opportunity as those with medical alarms in times of a power outage, as they can't connect to the mobile phone network, which was intended to act, for most people, as a backup.

If the NBN rollout had been conducted in accordance with Labor's proposal for fibre-to-the-premises technology, then each household could have been provided with a five-hour buffer in the form of battery backup at the home and, of course, power back at the exchange. Now if the power goes out it affects not only the home but, of course, the node that they are connected to, and it robs them of connectivity. If the Mobile Black Spot Program had been rolled out on a needs basis rather than a 'which Liberal member needs to be re-elected?' basis, then we would possibly have a backup option available to these households. Instead, in times of blackout these families are being left in the dark, left in silence, left isolated from their friends, workplaces and families, and, worse, left in real danger.

The real shame of it is that not only is the Turnbull government delivering an inferior broadband source but, by the time of the next election, most of the people will have already had this inferior service foisted upon them, locking them into services where blackouts will rob them of essential connectivity. The job of addressing mobile black spots is clearly not complete. Work remains to be done here to make sure that these people are protected.