Broken promises regarding the roll out and delivery of the NBN were the key focus of the meeting between MP Justine Elliot, Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, Stephen Jones MP and the 40–50 locals that came to air their concerns on Wednesday at the Mullumbimby Ex-services Club.
‘The NBN crisis meeting drew a passionate crowd who raised a variety of issues such as: wireless towers and their effectiveness, poor or no NBN coverage, deficiency around the NBN satellite service, and the need for truth in marketing by providers,’ Ms Elliot said.
‘It was a great day, welcoming the Shadow Minister for Regional Communications Stephen Jones to Mullumbimby to hear first-hand from locals about their issues around the Liberal-National government’s failed NBN rollout.
At the 2013 election, Malcolm Turnbull promised he would deliver the NBN faster and cheaper that alternative options with three key commitments: Minimum download speeds of 25 megabits per second to all Australians by the end of 2016, delivery of the NBN for $29.5 billion and a commitment that the areas most under-served by existing telecommunications infrastructure would be prioritised in the rollout – none have been achieved.
Ms Elliot said, ‘People constantly tell me how fed up and frustrated they are with Malcolm Turnbull’s second rate NBN.
‘The rollout of the NBN has now reached crisis point for local homes and businesses who were promised so much more,’ she said.
In our area the ‘faster cheaper option’ mostly turned out to be 4G ‘fixed wireless’ towers, using the same radiation as mobile phone towers but more specifically targeted to the consumers’ homes.
The audience was divided between those who missed out by being in the shadow of an NBN tower due to our hilly terrain and those who felt assaulted by the extra layer of microwaves.
Local provider killed off
Mullumbimby local Mike Stav told the meeting the NBN had bankrupted local provider Linknet, resulting in a cheaper but more trouble prone service.
‘The hardware that NBN installs into the home, unlike the simpler hardware from Linknet, produces enormous amounts of dirty electricity and additional EMR that is devastating to those sensitive to EMR. We learned this the hard way, after NBN bankrupted Linknet and we installed NBN hardware did we discover we could not use it because of its ill effect on our health,’ he said.
He added that the NBN had no charter to monitor and assess the safety of its equipment.
He also criticised ARPANSA, which has been given that role, saying ‘their yardstick for safe exposure to microwaves is based on its ability to heat human tissue. Their standard allows more than 1 million times higher levels of radiation than Austria.’
He added that the NBN was ‘robbing us of safer choices, but also [replacing] landline phone lines with VoIP style telephone connections, which as you know fail during power blackouts, extreme flooding, and other natural emergencies potentially costing lives.’
Mr Stav said that if the NBN had been held to its original promise of delivering internet by fibre optic cable to every home many of these problems could have been avoided.
The latest available information from NBN Co shows that as of August 2017 – 40,000 premises in Richmond have no NBN connection and some residents including those in Ballina are not set for completion until 2019.