Page MP Kevin Hogan has defended the roll-out of the National Broadband Network in the region saying it should be completed by the end of 2017.
Labor candidate Janelle Saffin this morning challenged Mr Hogan and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce to come clean on the state of the rollout.
Ms Saffin said the Liberal-Nationals second-rate broadband plan was already well behind schedule and over budget.
‘There are supposed to be 55,020 homes connected by 2018, but so far in Page we have only 12,959 premises connected to the fixed wire services, and 653 premises where building is underway,’ she said.
‘The Government thinks the truth about the NBN rollout should be treated like a national security secret.
‘But this is a publicly-funded infrastructure project, and the people of the northern rivers and north coast have a right to know when they will get it.’
In response, Mr Hogan said the roll-out across the north coast and northern rivers would be completed by the end of 2017, three years before the national rollout is completed.
‘Currently outlying towns and villages are being connected to the wireless system. As of April, the service has been available to 17,846 premises in our region,’ Mr Hogan said.
‘In the first three months of next year fibre to the node connections begin. This includes areas such as Lismore.
‘This will be followed later by Evans Head, Casino which will be finished by the end of next year.’
Mr Hogan said the vast majority of connections would be occurring through 2017.
‘This is as fibre to the node is connected to our major centres. NBN are confident the target of over 55,000 homes will be reached for our region by 2018.
‘This is well before the completion of the rollout across the nation by 2020.’
Meanwhile, Ms Saffin said local residents of the north coast and northern rivers were sick of being treated like second-class citizens when it came to Internet access.
‘Recently Liberal-National frontbencher Christopher Pyne said Australians didn’t need a world-class broadband network because they could easily watch movies on the Coalition’s second-rate version – whenever it finally arrives.
‘Seriously, the Liberal-Nationals just don’t get it.
‘They don’t understand that broadband is not just about watching movies. It’s critical 21st century infrastructure for industry, businesses, agriculture, the health sector, education institutions, and research – as well as household consumers.
‘We cannot have an innovative, agile regional economy focused on job creation unless we have an effective NBN.’