Luke Hartsuyker’s response today to the Coffs Harbour Advocate on the NBN “Digital Divide” in Bellingen shows just how out of touch The Nationals are on fairness, opportunity and the future.

In short, eighty per cent of the urban area in Bellingen is earmarked to get fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) delivering speeds of up 100 Mbps, which is more than capable of providing very acceptable speeds for most (but not all) homes and businesses. However, due to cost-cutting, NBN Co has decided to leave around twenty per cent of the urban area of Bellingen on Fixed Wireless (FW) (broadband by 4G), meaning their ‘theoretical’ speed is not only capped at 50 Mbps, but it never gets near that in reality due to congestion, weather and topography.

Today, the Coffs Harbour Advocate has published a response from Mr Hartsuyker to Saturday’s front page story on Bellingen’s ‘digital divide’. It has clearly been written by the federal Department of Communications or NBN Co, and Luke Hartsuyker merely has stuck it on his letterhead.

Mr Hartsuyker’s response is pathetic. Mr Hartsuyker should be ashamed of himself, his policy, his party and his government.

In the response to the Coffs Harbour Advocate ($), Mr Hartsuyker states:

Advocate: Last year residents were promised speeds of 100/40Mbps. Will you stand by that commitment even if it means directing NBN to extend the Fibre to the Curb rollout to the remainder of the town?

Hartsuyker: The undertaking to provide 100/40Mbps was made by NBN, but that product was subsequently withdrawn by the company because of the cost. The Coalition’s promise is for minimum speeds of 25Mbps.

Luke, don’t pass off NBN as a company. You own it! “NBN is wholly owned by the Commonwealth of Australia as a Government Business Enterprise (GBE), incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001 and operated in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).” Source: NBN website

Luke, so you are standing by your 25 Mbps policy. It is a dud. It is not future proof and not suitable for many small businesses and residential 4k television. Labor’s policy is for fibre-to-the-curb. Source: Shadow Minister for Communication, August 2017.

Advocate: Do you agree that it is acceptable to business and consumers in the Sunset and Hospital Hill estates to be charged $20,000 to get a service that is supplied free to neighbours 100m away?

Hartsuyker: No, and that is not the case. A connection capable of meeting the minimum standards set for the NBN is free. However, if a potential customer wants to seek a technology upgrade from NBN to achieve higher speeds, then they will need to make arrangements with NBN and pay for that. The price is subject to a range of variables.

That’s is a lie. It is the case, if you live in one of the FW areas in urban Bellingen (capable of a theoretical maximum of 50 Mbps) but you want or need a reliable 100 Mbps speed as other areas in Bellingen on fibre will get, you do have to pay thousands of dollars for a service provided free to neighbours 100 metres away.

Labor again calls on the Government to reject the NBN plan. Labor took a robust policy to the 2016 election to scale up the rollout of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) and phase out the deployment of fibre-to-the-node (FTTN). At a minimum, the Government should take fibre deeper into the network to provide consumers with a faster and more reliable connection.

NBN’s contractors are active in Bellingen now. The Government should direct NBN Co to do a rollout of FTTC to the entire urban area of Bellingen and not leave twenty per cent of the community in the digital wilderness.




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