With The Hon. Kristina Keneally, Labor Candidate for Bennelong.
SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull’s second-rate NBN, medical alarms on NBN network.
MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Good morning and I'm delighted to be here in Blenheim Park with Labor's candidate for Bennelong, Kristina Keneally. And Kristina has been out on the hustings this week and one of the first things she did was let me know how important the issue access to high quality world-class broadband is for local residents here in Bennelong.
For an area that is so diverse - diverse in terms of age, in terms ethnicity, in terms of socio-economic background - equitable access to high speed broadband, world-class broadband is well recognised. And the question here is, does Bennelong have a fighter for world-class broadband in the federal parliament at the moment? Well, the answer to that is this: the sitting Member, John Alexander, has mentioned the issue of broadband or the NBN in Parliament over the last seven years a grand total of eight times. Eight times! And not one of those occasions was in terms of strong advocacy for world-class broadband. In other words, for the residents of Bennelong, when it comes to world-class broadband for local residents, JA has been MIA.
The residents of Bennelong deserve a fighter. A fighter for the best quality broadband for themselves, their businesses, their children, their healthcare, and they have that fighter in Kristina Keneally.
I'd also like to say something very important about medical alarms and the subsidy scheme that is currently occurring, and how that is impacted by the NBN. Now this is not an issue you see on the front page of the papers each day but I can tell you it is becoming increasingly important one for older and more vulnerable people in our community. To sum it up, there are two types of medical alarms: monitored and non-monitored. The non-monitored type are those that are, by and large, more affordable. But under Malcolm Turnbull's second-rate NBN, people with these types of alarms won't have access to their functionality in the event of a power outage. It is an extremely serious issue. Contrast that to Fibre to the Premises, which enables a battery back-up system to be installed in the home. Now currently, NBNCo is operating on the premise that there should be mobile substitutes for people who have monitored alarms, but cutting out those people who have the non-monitored version. Labor has been pursuing this for well over a year with the Minister. We commend the NBN for actually having the foresight to have people register their alarms with them.
But the question then becomes this: where has the government been for more than a year while this issue has been brewing? It has taken no leadership at all on this very important matter, and we know that it's important for so many people because they are out there telling us how important it is. So Labor believes in equality of access when it comes to this issue, believes the government should actually stand up and do something about this matter and resolve it once and for all. And in the meantime, access to high-quality broadband remains fundamental to local residents in Bennelong.
John Alexander, just like Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, promised that everyone would have access to the NBN by the end of last year. Well last year came and went and we have tens of thousands of residents in Bennelong without access to the NBN. Now I'll ask Kristina, who is very passionate about this issue also, to say a few words.
KRISTINA KENEALLY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BENNELONG: Thanks Michelle. Friends welcome to North Ryde. In the past few days as I've been out talking to voters, and talking to local residents and businesses. One thing they tell me is that their NBN service is either just what they are getting right now or it's even slower, and they're paying more for it. About 5,500 households in Bennelong have the NBN. Now, Malcolm Turnbull said they all would have it by now, but only about 5,500 do. The residents who are getting it installed now, they're getting cable. They're not getting the high quality world-class NBN that Labor wants to deliver. Now this is a frustrating set of circumstances for local business, for families, for students. This is an issue affecting people every day. Now, I'm delighted to have Michelle here. I'm pleased that Labor is listening on the NBN. Particularly, I would like to just highlight that John Alexander has said very little on this issue. Very little has been done and the people of Bennelong are very frustrated by what they are getting. As I said, it is a slow NBN, sometimes it is kind of the same thing as before, but people have to pay more for it.
Now, Malcolm Turnbull calls the NBN a train wreck but he's the one who drove it off the rails. So it's time now for the people of Bennelong to stand up and have their say. This by-election is a chance for them to have their say. This is just not good enough from the Liberals and John Alexander. Whether it’s the NBN, whether its rising power prices, whether its cuts to Medicare, what we're getting out of Malcolm Turnbull is just talk. Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Do you think the people of NSW have moved on from since the last state election, your state election rather. Do you think their opinion on you has changed?
KENEALLY: One thing the people of NSW will know is that I am a fighter, that I stand up and fight. Whether it is fighting Malcolm Turnbull's cuts to Medicare, whether it's fighting for world quality NBN, whether it's fighting for a government that will do something about rising power prices. Remember when Malcolm Turnbull said in February this year at the National Press Club that he was going to make energy prices his number one commitment this year? Well in NSW, energy prices have gone up 20%. The people of Bennelong have an opportunity to send a message on behalf of Australia at this by-election.