Coalition mismanagement of regional communications is again evident with the mismanaged transition from the Interim Satellite Service (ISS) to Sky Muster, says Stephen Jones, Shadow Minister for Regional Communications.
Ongoing customer service problems with Sky Muster relating to installation problems, such as technician “no-shows”, cancelled appointments and inadequate equipment are a source of great frustration for those living in regional and remote Australia, Mr Jones said.
Now we hear that Territorians living in the most remote areas could be left in an information vacuum at the end of the month when the ISS switches off next week.
NT Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Shadow Assistant Minister for Northern Australia Warren Snowdon MP have said families are being told they will be without internet connections from 28 February next week because of the Turnbull Government’s flawed Sky Muster roll out.
“I know of one family, Rod and Rayna Dunbar who operate Nutwood Downs, a pastoral property in the Daly Waters region of the Northern Territory. They have spent the last eight months trying to get the NBN contractor to install the hardware to connect them to the Sky Muster satellite,” Senator McCarthy says.
“On February 7th the Dunbars were told they would lose their existing service on 28th February – in four days. They still do not have the hardware installed to connect to Sky Muster, despite repeated assurances from the contractor and NBN that it would happen.”
Warren Snowdon says: "It is alarming that there are at least 53 people in remote areas of the NT who still haven’t been connected to Sky Muster. It is not good enough, once again Territorians are all but forgotten."
“How can people in the bush be expected to run businesses, receive information and stay connected when they are expected to cop second rate communications services?" Mr Snowdon said.
Senator McCarthy says: “We’ve already seen the Coalition Government stand by while remote Territorians lost their ABC shortwave radio services and the Tennant Creek Radar Station. Now they are about to lose internet services due to the Government’s Sky Muster NBN fiasco. This Government just doesn’t care about people in the bush.”
The Interim Satellite Service was launched in 2011 by the then Labor Government as part of its strong commitment to modernising regional communications services to regional Australia through its National Broadband Network project as a temporary solution to rural and regional connectivity issues.
“Last week, Minister Nash was boasting about the shutdown of the ISS and taking credit for Sky Muster. The Minister appears unaware that the ISS was always scheduled to run only until the two high capacity Sky Muster satellites that Labor also contracted for were launched and operational,” says Stephen Jones, Shadow Minister for Regional Communications.
“Regrettably, the Government’s mismanagement of the NBN rollout including the transition from the ISS to Sky Muster means there have been significant problems for Sky Muster customers which must be addressed if we are going to close the access gap between regional and metropolitan Australians,” Mr Jones says