February 14, 2022
Haines introduces new bill to make internet faster and fairer in Indi
Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has introduced the Faster Internet for Regional Australia Bill 2022 to Parliament, which would raise the bar on what is expected of nbn co when serving customers in Indi and around regional Australia.
If passed, the Bill would require nbn co to connect new premises and fix faults within the same turn around times that apply in metro areas, or risk serious fines. The Bill would also require telcos to provide fast average speeds of 25 megabits per second at all times of the day.
The Bill comes more than 12 months after the Government proposed its own more lenient performance standards for nbn co, which Dr Haines says are too weak.
“The Government’s toothless standards for nbn co would lock in the frustrations constituents across Indi experience right now,” Dr Haines said.
“The Government has backed off when it comes to holding nbn co to account in the regions.”
“Under the Government’s proposed standards, which it looks like won’t see the light of day before the election, nbn co only needs to provide speeds of 25 megabits per second once a day. That could be 2am or 2pm for five minutes or five seconds.”
“25 megabits per second barely lets mum and dad stream the news in the living room and the kids do their homework in their bedrooms down the hall.”
“The regions deserve telecommunications excellence at all times, with equality with the cities.”
The Bill would also require nbn co to fix any network faults and dropouts within one business day instead of two or three business days, and connect all new premises within five business days instead of up to 19 business days under the Government’s proposal.
“I’ve met small businesses who’ve waited months to get connected to the nbn. Everyone knows the first month of a new business is crucial, especially if you’re organising booking systems online or setting up your operations in the cloud. The Government’s low standards when it comes to the nbn is hurting regional economies.”
The Bill has broad in-principle support from the National Farmers Federation, the Council of Small Businesses of Australia, and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.
Local regional entrepreneurs and business leaders also back the Bill.
Matt Pfahlert, chief executive officer of the Australian Centre for Regional Entrepreneurship, based in Beechworth, backed the Bill.
“This Bill respects the enormous challenges rural job innovators already face to create new business and industry opportunities. Rural communities do not need to be further hobbled, and deserve a sporting chance in a global marketplace by having a reliable telco infrastructure that is currently taken for granted by people in metropolitan areas” said Mr Pfahlert.
Dr Haines’ announcement is one of three new election commitments made in relation to phone and internet coverage across Indi. In addition to improving internet speeds and connection times, Dr Haines has also announced she will work to secure $300 million in federal funding to finish the NBN build across regional and rural Australia which the Government argues is already complete, despite asking cash strapped local councils to foot the bill for incomplete parts of the build.
“Strong internet infrastructure is crucial to our prosperity and development here in the regions. From small business innovation to working from home, it’s vital to our success.”