Labor’s spokesperson on Regional Communications, Stephen Jones MP, today welcomed the new Rural, Regional and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) formed in response to the Turnbull Government’s failure to deliver equitable access to a reasonable quality of communications services in regional Australia.

“I congratulate the members of the RRRC Coalition which includes Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), the Country Women’s Association of NSW, the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association and AgForce Queensland for coming together to highlight the growing digital divide between regional and urban Australians. I look forward to engaging with them on these issues.


“Just a few months ago the Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2016 provided evidence that both geography and socio-economic factors play a key role when it comes to access, affordability and digital activity in Australia and that gaps in infrastructure, higher prices and user capacities were compounding inequality between regional Australia and the cities,” Mr Jones said.


“Sadly this is an issue that the city-centric Turnbull Government is turning a blind eye to.


“National Party MPs in particular who are in a position to push for better outcomes from NBN via the Minister are badly letting their communities down,” Mr Jones said.


“Regional Australians are fast losing confidence in the ability of the Turnbull Government to deliver on the promise of a fast, affordable and reliable broadband network.


“Like most MPs, my electorate office has been receiving a high number of complaints from Australians living in regional areas who are fed up with the poor quality of telecommunications they are receiving,” Mr Jones said.


“Even worse is the fact that no one is prepared to take responsibility for these failures. People are getting bounced from their retail service provider to NBN and back again – without any result. When they turn to their MPs in the Liberal and National Parties, all they get back is glossy spin from NBN about how great things are. This just adds insult to injury.


“The recent Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Annual Report for 2016 told the story. In the top ten postcodes for NBN complaints, they are nearly all in regional Australia,” Mr Jones said.


“In fact, more than a quarter of new complaints in 2015-2016 to the TIO came from regional and rural Australia, a big six per cent increase,” Mr Jones said.


“Copper is the most likely culprit here with most of these locations relying on Mr Turnbull’s expensive and second-rate Fibre to the Node.


“In addition, NBN has been slow to address the many problems with the deployment of services on the Sky Muster satellite,” Mr Jones said.


“Last week in Senate Estimates, Mr Bill Morrow NBN CEO admitted that there were problems with the key routers and controls in the Sky Muster network system.


“While Mr Morrow expressed some concern about three dropouts per customer per day, we have heard anecdotal stories about a far worse level of service,” Mr Jones said.  


The litany of failures in regional communications by the Turnbull government includes:


  • A growing digital divide between urban and regional Australia;

  • Second rate Fibre-to-the-Node broadband delivered on degraded copper wiring driving consumer complaints to all time high;

  • Sky Muster failures on service quality, data allocation and customer service;

  • Botched delivery of Round 1 of the Coalition’s Mobile Black Spot Program that received a damming report from the ANAO in September has been a huge disappointment to regional Australians.


“It’s well past time for the Turnbull Government to admit their expensive failures when it comes to their sabotage of the National Broadband Network and to get on with ensuring customer service and telecommunications services are up to scratch,” Mr Jones said.