MONDAY, 2 JULY 2018
SUBJECT/S: NBN, GST, Cannabis
JUSTINE KEAY, LABOR’S CANDIDATE FOR BRADDON: So thank you very much. I'm Justine Keay, I’m the Labor candidate for the Braddon by-election. And I've got with me today our Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Telecommunications, Stephen Jones. He's come down to the North West today. And Sam Hope, we're outside his business here in Devonport, Blind Design, Sam has told us that he's had significant issues with the NBN and it’s having huge impacts on his business.
Now when the NBN was rolled out we all thought that it was going to be our fibre to the premises as Labor had initiated it to be, but with the changes that Malcolm Turnbull made when he became Minister to go fibre to the node, there's been a number of issues and faults across the country.
There's hardly any user that has not had an issue with that. But what's happened is when these people that are, you know, get connected, particularly with businesses, and they're finding there are faults and things are dropping out and they're ringing up their service provider.
They get into this ping pong between their service provider and the NBN and customers don't seem to be getting any assistance from anyone to try and get some of these issues fixed.
Sam here has had significant issues with his phone lines through the NBN dropping out which has cost his business thousands of dollars and he's had that quantified by his accountants.
It’s just not good enough. Sadly, Malcolm Turnbull and his government are not doing anything to help the customers of the NBN actually get a service that works for small business to actually be able to do the things that they need to do to keep their business ticking over.
We don't want businesses to lose money.
We don't want people in their homes to consistently be fighting to get their NBN issues fixed.
That's why I've asked Stephen to come down today to speak with Sam. We've had a chat with Sam, but also to talk about what Labor is planning to do to support customers, to support small businesses with the NBN.
STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS: Thanks very much. Great to be here with Sam Hope at his business, Blind Design, and with my good friend. Justine. The story is this - we know that customers are being left, we know the customers are being left in no man's land. They get bounced between the NBN and the phone companies, nobody taking responsibility.
People are asking well what will Labor do differently.
This is what Labor will do differently.
We will legislate to put in place tough new standards on the NBN, whether it’s installations whether it’s faults or whether it’s missed appointments. Tough new standards, and penalties in place when those standards aren't met.
Customers are no longer going to be caught in a game of NBN ping pong with nobody taking responsibility.
Sam Hope has told the story of his problems. Over, over many, many months thousands of dollars lost in revenue.
And, these are not theoretical issues. These are not theoretical issues.
We know we've got to fix the technology. We also know we've got to put tough new standards on the NBN to ensure that customers get the service that they're paying for.
SAM HOPE, OWNER OF BLIND DESIGN: They looked at my site and could see how many times it had dropped out. Not only dropped out but I was sending email quotes to customers. They didn’t receive them.
Connecting to the old copper system, which they have done, the Turnbull Government.
The technicians say copper underneath his ground we’re standing on is rotten. It's been laying in water for many, many years.
Fibre to the home was what we were told we were going to get and that's what we want.
JOURNALIST: How much do you think all these delays cost your business?
HOPE: I can back it up with figures that were worked out with my accountant. Between $50- and $70,000.
JOURNALIST: Over what time frame?
HOPE: Beginning of ‘16 to ’17.
JOURNALIST: Could you go a little bit more detail about why it cost you that much money, was that lost business or where has that loss come from?
HOPE: The loss is that the phones have been down, the EFTPOS machines go out with them, and when it goes down, everything goes out, and you've got to reboot it.
My staff, and it's not their responsibility really, but they're on their sewing machines they don't hear that the system has gone down.
The only way I find out is it reverts to my mobile I'm out probably in the bush somewhere doing a job and I have to ring their mobile to say can you go and reboot that modem.
JOURNALIST: Do you know any other businesses that are having this issue?
HOPE: I've heard through my accountant, there's quite a few others around the area.
It's just not a one-off issue and small business needs to be able to access their customers.
JOURNALIST: Are the customers getting frustrated with this?
HOPE: Yes particularly when they come into pay and it frustrates me a bit because I need the payment.
The EFTPOS machine is down so they have to go to the bank to get cash and come back.
JOURNALIST: Have you lost customers, do they end up going somewhere else?
HOPE: Yes. I've been told by friends that ‘my mate went in to see you or tried to contact you, couldn't, and went elsewhere’. That's what's being worked out in the figures the accountant put together.
JOURNALIST: Is this sort of putting your business at risk as well?
HOPE: Yes because, and you shouldn’t have to, draw on your super to put back in your own business. But it's a bit unfortunate that I had to do that because of the loss of business.
JOURNALIST: How often would you say that you sort of contact them like that.
HOPE: I would ring NBN and they would put me on to a call centre, the call centre would say no there's nothing wrong but I knew there was. And, what I did find through the whole system is that Telstra isn’t talking to NBN and NBN is not talking to Telstra. And there both, I think, government owned facilities.
JONES: And the point, I think the story is that Sam told and that Justine is telling is that Sam has got a business to run.
He doesn't need to be an expert in telecommunications, he needs to be good at dealing with his customers. If he's losing $60-, $70,000 in one year alone because his phone system, because the NBN and the phone companies aren't working together that's a story told dozens and dozens and dozens of times around this town and many other towns throughout Tasmania.
We want to put in place a system that stops that. Stops the NBN ping pong and ensures that tough standards means good service for businesses like Sam’s.
JOURNALIST: Just on to other issues. There's some speculation today that Tasmania might be worse off under the new GST carve up. What are your thoughts on this?
JONES: Well I think the Prime Minister needs to come clean with Tasmanians. Brett Whiteley needs to come clean with Tasmanians. We want a guarantee that Tasmanians will not be one cent worse off, not just now, but over the next decade as well.
We know how important federal funding is for services, for health care, for hospitals for schools throughout Tasmania.
KEAY: Certainly, Saul Eslake has come out today to put a figure, it could be $300-, could be $500 million that Tasmania will be worse off in 2021.
That's a huge alarm, I think, for Tasmania.
We've got a Prime Minister that has been holding onto this report for such a long time now.
We've got the elections coming up very soon here in Tasmania and he's not coming clean to the people of Tasmania what that will mean.
We’ve had our state budget handed down and he couldn't even let the Treasurer know what his position is on this report and yet we've got a state budget that's factoring in potential loss of revenue for this state as it relates to right to running our frontline services.
It could equate to fifteen hundred nurses or teachers or police.
This is a significant issue for this state in terms of running our frontline services, our hospitals and our schools, and our Prime Minister is just taking us as mugs and not coming clean with the people of Tasmania, what this means.
We need to look at this in the longer term not just in what will happen next year but in the longer term. And it is about time he actually, not only released the report, but made his position very, very clear of what this would mean to Tasmanians.
And then I would expect the Tasmanian State Government to come out clean and tell Tasmanians what it means for our frontline services as well.
JOURNALIST: So how should the state government tackle this?
KEAY: Well they need to be honest and upfront with the Tasmanian community not play the politics, not be the best friend to Canberra, which they always have been.
They've never stood up for Tasmanians when the Federal Government cut a billion dollars from our schools and hospitals.
They were quiet on that.
We know there are significant ‘savings’ that they've made in their past budgets and their current budget at a federal level that has implications for school funding and hospital funding here in Tasmania.
So, I would expect that the Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein and the Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman to stand up for Tasmanians when this report is released and when the Prime Minister finally releases his position on the GST carve up.
JOURNALIST: Do you support the Greens’ calls to legalise recreational cannabis?
KEAY: That's a fringe issue for the Greens’. It's not something that the people of Braddon are talking about, and clearly if that is something that the federal candidate is talking about, he’s talking about it in wrong election. This is a matter for state governments to legislate whether to legalize this or not.
JOURNALIST: Richard Di Natale is in the state today, we don’t see him over here all that often. Do you think the Greens tend to ignore Tasmania a bit on the federal level?
KEAY: Certainly they haven't had any representation at the federal level other than in the Senate, but in the last state election the Greens have been reduced to two seats. I think they're trying to re-build their brand. We'll see how that fares in this by-election.
JOURNALIST: Will you be accepting preferences from the Greens on July 28?
KEAY: Well the Greens can put their preferences wherever they like. That's a matter for them for them and their votes.
JOURNALIST: What were your thoughts on cannabis poll conducted by the Greens?
KEAY: That’s not something I’ve looked into.
HOPE: Just one final thing with the NBN. Yes all the promises that are being given out at the moment are worthless if they don’t finish what they started. That’s all I’ve got to say.