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‘Bring on the broadband’

Tuesday, 26th July, 2011

By Kurtis Eichler

City Council, health services, schools and other organisations will tell the public hearing by the joint committee of the National Broadband Network  tomorrow that the NBN can’t come soon enough.

As part of the committee’s review of the NBN, the chairman, independent MP Rob Oakeshott, Shadow Minister Malcolm Turnbull and local Federal MP Sussan Ley, and three other MPs will be making a day trip to the city.

Mr Oakeshott said the committee’s visit will provide an opportunity for its members to hear about local issues and concerns in regard to the rollout of the NBN.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Far West Local Health District, Maari Ma, Regional Development Australia, School of the Air and City Council’s General Manager, Frank Zaknich will present submissions to the joint committee from Canberra.

Mr Zaknich said Council supported the NBN plan.

“Council views the rollout of the National Broadband Network as a key enabling infrastructure for the city of Broken Hill and region and a critical part of retaining and attracting residents, business and industry to Far West NSW,” he said. 

“Additional telecommunications capacity will assist to improve the commercial viability of major projects that are planned in the region and to attract the service and support businesses to the region that are reliant on telecommunications.”

The Royal Flying Doctor’s South-Eastern CEO, Clyde Thomson said slow broadband speed was affecting health services.

“We’re at a disadvantage as far as IT goes in the city because of the lack of IT services in Broken Hill. They’re poor. If you look at four years ago, the band was acceptable.

“We’ve lost 30 minutes of precious clinic time per day in the past four years.”

Mr Thompson also said faster internet speed was needed for the retrieval of medical records.

He will be bringing the committee up to date with how the NBN will affect general operations, and two other staff will be informing the committee on the IT and medical aspect of the NBN’s 100 megabits per second speed.

Regional Development Far West CEO, Linda Nadge, said the NBN was “absolutely” necessary.

“If you stand in a part of town without copper wire, you don’t enjoy ADSL at all so you’re dependent on wireless broadband,” Ms Nadge said.

“It’s not about downloading movies. The best thing about broadband is getting access to information, goods and services, and markets across the world.”

Ms Nadge, who will be joined by Perilya and Central Darling Shire Mayor Paul Brown, will point to the challenges locals face.

Ms Nadge said the situation in country areas had deteriorated to the stage where people in Wilcannia could stand under a Telstra phone tower and still not get reception.

“We want to know when we will get the NBN here.

“The sustainability of a town and its businesses depend upon higher speeds.”

The joint committee will hold its hearing at the Trades Hall.

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