Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch has expressed serious concerns about the rollout of the NBN, with Cairns in desperate need to secure high-speed broadband in the next round of the rollout.
Mr Entsch said he was strongly opposed to the exorbitant cost of the Gillard Government’s $36 billion NBN plan and reaffirmed the Coalition’s commitment under its existing policy to build high-speed broadband networks in major cities such as Cairns.
But Mr Entsch said Cairns could not wait for a Federal election to benefit from the Coalition plan, insisting the city must be included in the next round of the NBN rollout when it is announced in January.
Mr Entsch said his concerns over the methodology now being used for the rollout were further heightened after a meeting with NBN representatives in Cairns on November 14.
“I’ve got major reservations about the way the NBN is being rolled out and my great fear is that Cairns will miss out as it has in the earlier rounds,” Mr Entsch said.
“I am alarmed at the way the Gillard Government has changed the criteria for deciding which areas will receive high-speed broadband first.
“Instead of the original intention to rollout the NBN to priority areas with the greatest need for high-speed broadband, the NBN rollout is now driven by design and existing infrastructure in its decision-making.
“This means Cairns could miss out yet again, despite the fact we should have been in the first round of the rollout because no other city needs high-speed broadband more than Cairns.
“The Coalition broadband plan is more cost effective and has a broader range of services, but if we’re stuck with the NBN it must be rolled out in Cairns when the decision is announced in January.”
Mr Entsch said the proximity of Cairns to Asia, flagging economy and lack of new infrastructure were key reasons the city should have already been included in the NBN rollout.
He applauded the work of the Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQROC) in preparing its submission to convince the Gillard Government to deliver high-speed broadband to Cairns.
“I know FNQROC’s submission about the urgent need to bring high-speed broadband to Cairns was among the most compelling in the country.
“I am bitterly disappointed Cairns missed out on the first round of the NBN and the Gillard Government is on notice that we are demanding Cairns is included in the next rollout to be announced in January.”
“I do not support Labor’s expensive NBN plan, but I do support the urgent need for high-speed broadband in Cairns.”