Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (09:54): Like a lot of offices in this place, my office has been inundated by questions from concerned constituents about the future rollout of the National Broadband Network and they are right to be concerned. One day they see NBN trucks rolling down the street, hauling cables; the next day they have disappeared. One day they log onto the NBN website and see their suburb and their street registered on the map; the next day it has disappeared with no warning, no apology and no explanation. Just today it has been revealed that 40 workers contracted to work on the rollout of the NBN in the Illawarra region have lost their jobs because there is no certainty about the future of the project in our region. The mood of the electorate is summed up well in this letter to the editor of the Illawarra Mercury from a constituent, Mr David Taylor:
Over the last 12 months I have watched with eager anticipation the NBN rollout along the main road near my house.
Their website told me NBN would be available to my house in December this year. Oh joy.
Then overnight things changed.
My area has been completely wiped from the rollout map, with no further information available. What bastardry.
Yes, those unspeakable persons said they would abandon the NBN but surely it would make economic sense to finish what is nearly completed?
Turnbull would not even make himself available for comment. What arrogance. Another case of let the peasants eat bread, cake is too good for them.
I bet the Liberal politicians and their mates don't miss out.
What will they do or undo next?
Mr Taylor hits the nail on the head. When in opposition, the government said they would honour every contract; now they are saying, 'Not now, maybe never.' Local workers are losing their jobs as the construction contracts dry up. Invisibility is not transparency. What has happened to the rollout maps? The government has a responsibility to explain to constituents like Mr Taylor—people who were due to be connected in months—when they will get the NBN. His suburb of Horsley and the surrounds are some of the highest priority areas in the country for quality broadband. Other suburbs such as Albion Park do not even have access to ADSL. Large growth in the Illawarra's population over past decades has put a significant strain on our outdated copper wiring system and lack of capacity has caused massive overcrowding on our exchanges.
Constituents like mine in regions like the Illawarra have been promised the NBN. It is critical to the future economic development of our region. I join with Mr Taylor in calling on the minister to give us transparency and certainty for the future.