Broadband plan a disaster: MP

Friday, 2nd November, 2012

John WIlliams John WIlliams

By Erica Visser

State MP John Williams has labelled the National Broadband Network (NBN) the "biggest white elephant the Federal Government has seen".

His comments came after the State Government claimed that it would leave taxpayers with a $400 million installation bill.

NSW Finance and Services Minister, Greg Pearce, said that the company responsible for rolling out the Federal initiative, NBN Co, had refused to pay the full cost of installing the fibre network.

The extra cost is expected to be picked up by NSW residents' sky-rocketing power bills over the coming years.

Mr Williams said that it was unacceptable for locals to foot the bill for the NBN when the region could wait up to a decade to receive the technology.

Broken Hill was left off the most recent rollout list which NBN Co claimed was due to "engineering factors".

Mr Williams said that the Federal Government's $43 billion initiative was a "complete disaster".

"No one should be impacted by the cost of the NBN. This is a Federal Labor decision; they've made a commitment to roll this out so any cost should be borne by the Federal Government," he said.

"It's a pretty poor situation that people who don't have the NBN available to them would have to support those that do. The reality is this is one of the biggest white elephants the Federal Government has seen.

"I don't think they will last long enough to roll it out and I agree we've got to provide a better service.

"I think that what they're going to do is choose the areas where there can be a rollout in the easiest manner."

He said that hoped the region was included on the list update but that the technology could soon be supplanted by Telstra's 4G network.

The 4G will soon be available across the region and could improve broadband and mobile phone speed, Mr Williams said.

He also said that the number of people opting for the NBN where it was connected was fewer than expected.

"It's all designed on engaging as many customers as possible and the rates of users have been lower than the expected take-up rates. Obviously not everyone wants NBN and a number of things are responsible for that.

"One of those factors is the sort of planning that should've taken place. The experts said that planning would take 15 years - the Government was really not engaging in that."