Standing up for Canberra


It is a great pleasure to speak on this MPI this afternoon because Canberrans are furious. They are furious about the fact that the southern parts of my electorate are not even on the rollout map. They are furious about the fact that they are just one big blank when it comes to the NBN rollout. What does that mean? Here we are in the nation's capital.

What does that mean for the people of the nation's capital? Coalition governments have got form when it comes to the nation's capital. In 1996, 15,000 jobs were cut here and in this round with the coalition government we have lost 8,500. Coalition governments have got complete form when it comes to lack of investment in the nation's capital. Sir Robert Menzies would be turning in his grave. He respected this capital. He invested in this capital. He built this capital up. What have coalitions done since then? Just tear it apart. There were 15,000 jobs lost in 1996 and 8,500 with this coalition government.

I have comments here from people in my electorate. Melanie said:

My family lived in Theodore for 7 years and we now live in Calwell. My 3 children go to the local schools (Calwell High and Theodore Primary) and my husband runs a small business from a home office. I am a public servant, I study part time and I often work from home. Slow internet has a real impact on our day to day lives, our ability to contribute to the economy and our educations. We are a hard working family and we make a genuine contribution through our taxes. Our lives are increasingly reliant on the internet and three years is too long for us to have to wait to have this fixed.

Adrian said:

In global standards we are a third world country when it comes to internet download speeds and pricing! Latvia has faster average internet speeds than we do damn it!

And Matthew said:

It is hard to believe, and embarrassing to admit, that there is no high speed broadband access for some people in the capital of the country.

Another constituent said:

I stand with you in that Canberra is in dire need of attention on this matter. Although there is a relatively small population here, as such a hub of Government and government-contractor activity, the productivity that has been enhanced by the introduction of the internet is being bottle-necked by the poor standard of our network. Not to mention how embarrassing it is for us to have foreign representatives living here whose communications networks back home undoubtedly— like Latvia— are vastly better than our own.

Of the lack of NBN Vicky said:

I am trying to establish a new business and work from home. The lost earnings are immeasurable—

Because she cannot get access and she cannot work from home. I have heard from other constituents who want to work from home and run their small businesses from home but have to go to the expense and inconvenience of hiring an office because of the poor internet speeds here. They cannot actually have a home based small business.

Let me go back to Vicky. She said:

The lost earnings are immeasurable and the inconvenience unacceptable.

These are some of the comments I have received from Canberrans on the NBN this year—just this year; it is only February. You should see the dray load of comments I had last year, particularly after the shadow minister had an NBN community consultation with my community.

It is crystal clear that the Prime Minister is failing Canberrans when it comes to the NBN. Now when it comes to our wonderful city, there is a lot to boast about—we are the most highly educated population in the country; we have got the highest rate of volunteering in the country; we have the highest average income in the country; we are the healthiest population in the country—but there is one aspect of our city that I will not boast about and that, in fact, I am fairly ashamed of and that is our internet connectivity. Despite being the national capital, being home to government and having defence, world-leading universities, scientific and cultural institutions and embassies here, under the Prime Minister's rollout map large parts of Canberra are not even visible. As I said before, they are not even visible—there ain't no plan for parts of my electorate. For huge swathes of my electorate there ain't no rollout plan for the NBN. They are invisible to this government and nbn co. They are not even on the map. This is despite the fact that these suburbs in Canberra have the lowest rating in the country for both availability and quality of broadband—the lowest in the country. We are talking about the nation's capital here. It is breathtaking. It is appalling. It is absolutely outrageous.

I call on the Turnbull government to prioritise Canberra on the NBN rollout map. I have written to the minister. I would like a response, Minister, to my call for prioritisation. 

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