Connectivity should not be considered a luxury in 21st century Australia.
Gone are the days of us being a quaint, antipodean backwater, or a vast and uncharted frontier territory.
Our country is a modern one, a player on the world’s economic stage, and that means second-rate infrastructure is no longer acceptable.
The roll-out of the NBN is an example of an opportunity lost, with the chance to future-safe internet access gone begging.
There’s no doubt the entire NBN project is a highly complex one that was always likely to have issues but it’s plain to see there have been too many things going wrong, contributing to what Indi MP Cathy McGowan has dubbed “an infuriating data desert”.
There are many who are trying to run a business from home for who the standard NBN is so off the mark that they have to fork out considerably more to make it work effectively.
Tallangatta’s Pauline Whiting is another case entirely.
Her business needs internet access for almost every aspect of its day-to-day operation but there’s just one problem – the NBN rollout has not reached Tallangatta yet.
This means she is forced to use a 4G modem and 3G aerial to obtain a “very patchy” connection.
“We are at the point now, of total frustration, anger, disappointment, disgust,” she said in her submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the rollout of the NBN, which hits Wodonga on Thursday.
“There are a lot of small businesses in the area and each of us rely on connectivity to run our individual small businesses effectively and productively. The no-service and no-mobile reception issue we all suffer is debilitating to not only our businesses, but our personal productivity and that of our children in this day and age of technological communication and interaction.”
As technological capacity continues to grow, governments need to be among the first adapters, not the last few followers, so when their constituency comes online, the infrastructure is there to support them.
Labor promised a first-class system when it was in power and it became the Coalition’s job to deliver after it took over.
It’s imperative regional Australia has a voice when it comes to finding a solution and with Farrer MP Sussan Ley and Ms McGowan part of the committee, we can at least be confident we will be heard.