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January 10, 2012

The Gillard Government has confirmed the $50 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) won’t provide every home in Gippsland with high-speed broadband via its fibre network.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester recently raised the concerns of Gippslanders directly with the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy.

In a letter responding to Mr Chester’s concerns, Mr Conroy’s office indicated the communities of Longford, Glenmaggie, Fernbank, Marlo and Sarsfield would receive internet via a next-generation fixed wireless. Carrajung, Ensay and Dargo would rely on next-generation satellite.

Mr Chester said he was concerned that many Gippslanders would miss out on the NBN which was enormously expensive with little gain for regional taxpayers.

“Taxpayers in regional areas are paying their share of the cost without any guarantee that they will share in the benefits of this enormously expensive project,” Mr Chester said.

“Gippslanders are becoming increasingly frustrated by the slow progress of the NBN rollout to local communities.

“Adding to concerns are indications that a high number of households which are located in smaller Gippsland communities won’t be able to access the fibre network.

“Many local residents are telling me that it’s unfair that their taxes should be used for a service that they wont be able to access.”

Responding to concerns that towns with populations of less than 1000 people will be unable to access the fibre network, Mr Conroy’s office indicated that NBN Co may extend fibre coverage to some towns with more than 500 premises if transit routes passed through them.

Mr Chester said the Gillard Government needed to provide Gippslanders with more answers to their questions regarding the NBN rollout.

“The government hasn’t yet released a detailed rollout plan for Gippsland communities,” Mr Chester said.

“The government has a responsibility to better inform taxpayers of what services they can expect from the NBN and when it will be rolled out.”

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