Given that it is regional Australia we have to thank for taking the initiative to highlight the need for the NBN, it puzzles me that since the plans for the NBN were announced there has been utter silence from those early supporters of a first-class telecoms network for the bush. As a consequence NBN Co, which has an already overloaded program, is more than happy not to make regional Australia a priority.
Where are the Barnaby Joyces and Fiona Nashes, who championed this cause during the mid-00s? They deserve full credit for having played a key role in getting us the NBN in the first place, but where are they now, at the critical time of implementation?
At the start of the current version of the NBN I argued that NBN Co could have some early wins by using wireless technologies to provide regional Australia with a head-start – even if some of that technology were to eventually be replaced by fibre networks.
True, there are design and architecture issues to tackle but if regional Australia had kept up the pressure they most certainly would have been among the first cabs off the rank.
It looks as though those who advocated regional broadband were, in the end, more interested in their own politics than in the welfare of their regional communities.
The Liberal Opposition has made the issue a political one and ignores the fact that there is basically universal support for the NBN. They dismiss the NBN outright, without even trying to come up with a positive contribution to the debate on this national infrastructure development. The Nationals seem to have been caught in the negative political web also, and they are now seriously letting their regional constituents down. There certainly has not been a decrease in interest from regional Australia; however it is in desperate need of champions – otherwise they will simply remain at the end of the long NBN queue.
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