Standing up for Canberra

Transcript: Interview with Laura Tchilinguirian

Topic: NBN rollout delayed in South Canberra

LAURA TCHILINGUIRIAN: You’re listening to me, Laura Tchilinguirian. Have you got the NBN in your business or home yet? It is still a frustrating wait for many Canberrans checking the NBN website to see when their suburb is due for an upgrade. I just checked last week, and checked again this afternoon, and it’s changed. It’s been pushed back, again. So much so that the Federal Member for Canberra fired up in Federal Parliament today about internet speeds for Canberra’s southern suburbs. Gai Brodtmann joins me now on ABC Radio Canberra Drive. Good evening.

GAI BRODTMANN: Good evening, Laura.

TCHILINGUIRIAN: Why did you feel you had to bring this up in the chamber today?

BRODTMANN: You absolutely nailed it when you said it’s frustrating. I am so frustrated by the NBN rollout here in Canberra. After being one big blank space on the NBN rollout map, we finally appeared on it last year after a lot of campaigning and a lot of Canberrans sending me their speeds.

Now that we’re finally on the map, all we’re getting is delay after delay. Suburbs that were originally slated to get the rollout in April to June this year got moved to the right. Then we saw the rollout map had changed to a rollout from July to September this year. The latest news now is that suburbs, particularly in South East Tuggeranong have another rollout delay until between January and June next year.

TCHILINGUIRIAN: Just to declare my interest in this story - I only just checked on-air when I knew I was doing this story - I was slated for July to September this year and now it’s been pushed back to January and June next year. I only checked this last week.

BRODTMANN: We’ve got suburbs in Southeast Tuggeranong that have some of the worst internet speeds in the country and the world. Canberrans, households, businesses and students living with internet speeds of less than one megabit per second download and upload. As I’ve heard as part of my Send Me Your Speeds campaign they can’t even send me their speeds because it times out.

We’ve got buffering. We’ve got students who can’t do their homework. They have to go to their friend’s house that has decent speeds so they can get their homework done. We’ve got businesses that can’t operate from home. They have to go through the expense of hiring office space because they can’t do business from home.

This is a significant impediment to opportunity here in Canberra. To opportunity in business. To educational opportunity. To what I call ‘active citizenry’.

It’s absolutely outrageous and the fact we have another delay - it’s so frustrating. And Laura - I’ve been campaigning so hard on this only to find out we’ve had another delay.

We’ve been in touch with NBN Co. and we’re calling on the Minister for Communications and NBN Co. to explain why - Why is Canberra being delayed again?

TCHILINGUIRIAN: We’ve had no explanation as to why?

BRODTMANN: None. We got in touch when we heard about Southeast Tuggeranong. I don’t know where you live, Laura, but a lot of Canberra had actually had their schedule change for another six months, another 12 months.

We got in touch with NBN Co. to find out why this is happening and why the constant delays? It’s not just once, it’s twice and it took us forever to get on the rollout map. 

Now we’re faced with this patchwork of technology. We’ve got fibre to the node, fibre to the curb and fibre to the premises – sometimes in the same street. That’s another campaign and another issue. At the moment, I’m taking the government to task and asking the questions: why the delay and are there going to be any more delays?

On current form it looks like it’s just going to keep moving and moving and getting kicked down until we are at 2020, 2021, and 2022. Who knows?

TCHILINGUIRIAN: My guest here on ABC Canberra is Gai Brodtmann, the Member for Canberra, fired up in Parliament and is firing up now. You can see that you’re very frustrated by this and I can only imagine what residents are telling you. What are they telling you?

BRODTMANN: As I explained, it’s the experience where students need to go and study and do their homework with their friends. Businesses need me to go through the expense of hiring out office space, because in 2018, in the nation’s capital 10 to 15 kilometres from Parliament House, they can’t run a business from home. Or, even do basic things like paying bills.

TCHILINGUIRIAN: Was there a response today from the Federal Government?

BRODTMANN: No.

TCHILINGUIRIAN: Ok, we will be putting a call into NBN Co. and the Minister for Communications to see if we can find out more. Gai Brodtmann, thank you for joining me this afternoon on ABC Radio Canberra Drive.

BRODTMANN: Thanks, Laura, and thanks for taking up this campaign. Because, as you can tell, I’m frustrated, you’re frustrated and I can tell you right now, a lot of Canberra is frustrated. They are tearing their hair out that this is happening in the nation’s capital, in 2018.

TCHILINGUIRIAN: Gai Brodtmann, I appreciate your time.

BRODTMANN:  Thanks.