NBN’s pork barrel rolls over the coalition

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There will be many conversions to satellite or wireless broadband, where available. This like so many of the Govt. initiatives will not advantage all users.

NBN’s pork barrel rolls over the Coalition


Rollout … Stephanie Willems with children Caroline, 13, Elizabeth, 3 and Nicholas, 10 / Pic: Tracee Lea Source: The Daily Telegraph

THE NBN will be available in all but 11 federal seats over the next three years – but 10 of those seats are currently held by the Coalition.

The Gillard government was yesterday accused of pork barrelling after The Daily Telegraph’s checks of the newly unveiled National Broadband Network rollout revealed Coalition seats had been left vastly shortchanged. Opposition Leader Tony Abbot last night slammed the discrepancy, warning that the government was playing a dangerous game.

“We don’t like waste and we don’t like pork-barrelling,” Mr Abbott said.

“Add to that the fact that less than 14 per cent of households the NBN currently passes through actually use the service and it’s just a waste.”

Three-year roll out plan for NBN

The Coalition-held seats not included in the rollout schedule are: Bowman (Qld), Calare (NSW), Forde (Qld), Hume (NSW), Mackellar (NSW), Maranoa (Qld), McMillan (Vic), Ryan (Qld), Wannon (Vic), Wide Bay (Qld) while the Labor seat of Richmond, in northern NSW, will also miss out in the initial rollout.

Telco analyst Paul Budde said someone had to miss out but it was certainly odd to note the political discrepancies.

NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley said that site selection had been determined on the basis of engineering and logistics.

“What I can say is that the planners had no idea of electoral boundaries and they weren’t even interested,” he said. “We’ve tried to make sure we’ve sequenced this effectively but haven’t congested areas.”

The shape of the rollout was driven by a need to strike a balance between regional and metro areas as well as between states, Mr Quigley said.

Mr Budde said he’d “like to think the government wouldn’t play politics when rolling out this scheme, but it’s certainly bizarre.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the only way Australia could guarantee access to superfast broadband was under the Labor Party.

“If you are expecting to get the National Broadband Network and the government changes at the next election, you can forget it,” she said.

“Wherever you are scheduled in the rollout of the NBN, your access to broadband is not safe if the government changes.”

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull dismissed yesterday’s announcement as Labor spin, saying there was no evidence that anywhere near three million households would be connected by mid-2015. “Once again, Labor’s real message is ‘trust us’,” Mr Turnbull said.

“The rollout plan does not contain a forecast of how many households and businesses will actually be able to connect to the NBN fibre by 2015. Nor does it contain a forecast of how many households and businesses will actually be connected. Yet these are the only numbers that matter.”According to the Coalition, Mr Turnbull said just 18,900 premises would be able to connect to the NBN by March 31 this year.

NBN Co claims 18,243 premises able to access the network on June 30, 2011.

“Therefore over the past nine months NBN Co’s fibre rollout has reached 657 additional premises, just over 3 per working day.”

While a bizarre spattering of suburbs were given access to the scheme across NSW, some were left out of the loop while surrounding suburbs were included.

Baulkam Hills in Sydney’s west was one such suburb, despite neighbours Lalor Park, Crestwood and Blacktown all being given access.

Stephanie Willems, 38, said it seemed unfair that Baulkham Hills would miss out on the NBN rollout.

Ms Willems was shopping with her children Caroline, 13, Nicholas, 10 and Elizabeth, 3, yesterday and said they have the internet at home but not everyone can afford it.

“It’s unfortunate Baulkham Hills misses out. I’d like to know why they didn’t add us on,” she said.

“A lot of people in Baulkham Hills and surrounds wouldn’t be able to afford the internet and it’s important that all the school kids have the same access,” she said.




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