Local, Independant and Effective

3 min constituent statement - Dartmouth needs communications problems fixed

Posted October 29, 2014

 

CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (10:11):  Last week, Meaghan and Matthew Hick of Dartmouth, in the Mitta Valley, contacted my office to express their frustration with ageing telecommunications infrastructure in the town. The community has been putting up with landlines that drop out, public phones that do not work, slow internet speeds and poor, almost non-existent mobile phone coverage.

The Dartmouth community is holding a public meeting today to demand better landline phone and internet infrastructure. Residents have invited Telstra, NBN Co and local media to the event to ensure that the community voices are heard.

I am pleased to see the community working together to lobby for better services, but it should not have to be this way. Publican John Scales should not have to miss out on bookings at his pub because his phone is not working. School students doing year 12 should not be forced to stop studying because the internet is down for days.

The Hicks tell me that the copper lines from the exchange to each household and business in the town have been poorly maintained. There are several open asbestos pits throughout the town and this makes maintenance work difficult and very expensive. The equipment in the exchange cannot provide for any new ADSL connections, and the internet frequently slows to a crawl. Telstra upgraded the exchange in June this year and plan to do more additional work in the coming months, but these are only bandaid fixes.

I am concerned that the issues being raised by Dartmouth residents are symptomatic of a much more widespread problem. In Dartmouth, eventually, parts of the Telstra ageing fixed wire network and exchanges will be replaced by new NBN infrastructure. However, I am concerned about what happens during the lead-up to the full NBN rollout. Understandably, Telstra is reluctant to invest in fixed infrastructure and maintenance that will soon become redundant.

The recent progress in the rollout of the NBN in Indi is encouraging, but many communities are unsure whether they will be getting faster internet in 12 months or 12 years. They deserve better and deserve to know how long the wait will be. But in the meantime it is critical that the government provide the investment to improve and upgrade the networks in communities like Dartmouth. I call on the government to fix this problem. I join with the people of Dartmouth in saying it is just not good enough.

An honourable member:  Who caused the problem?

CATHY McGOWAN:  Who caused the problem? Telstra's inability to fix up the problem we have got.

An honourable member:  Well, it's Telstra's problem.

CATHY McGOWAN:  Well, it is an internet problem.

Honourable members interjecting—

CATHY McGOWAN:  Hey, this problem has been in the thing for 30 years. (Time expired)