Letter to the Editor @shirebello re @NBN_Australia Broadband Internet in #Cowper and #Bellingen Shire

Copy of 170614 Introducing Labor's Spokesperson in Cowper.png

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 12.15.17 pm.png18 June 2017

The Editor

Bellingen Shire Sun-Courier



I am writing to follow-up your post of 18 May 2017 “nbn in the Valley – a data drought to come?”.

We discussed the matter at length at the recent Bellinger River Labor Party Branch meeting. In short, we support, indeed it is Labor’s national policy for, FTTP or FTTC – fibre-to-the-premises or curb outside the premises rather than the Liberal and National policy of FTTN – fibre-to-the-node.

FTTN is basically fibre to an ugly box the size of a household refrigerator on the street within about 500 metres of your home or business. It then uses copper – technology invented by the US telephone company Bell in 1878 – to go ‘the last mile’ from the box to your premises at greatly reduced and unreliable speeds, latency and data-loss. If we’re going to do it – we should do it now; we should do it once and we should do it right. Under the Liberal and National current plan, Bellingen Shire is not doing it now; is not doing it once and, is not doing it right.

We are calling on the Federal Government via the NBN Co to connect all premises in Bellingen Shire to its network with fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) (or fibre-to-the-curb – FTTC), as per Labor’s 2016 federal election commitment, rather than with fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) where technically and financially feasible, thus ensuring a future proof, high speed and reliable service for all businesses and communities.

In supporting Labor’s national FTTP/FTTC policy, we reject the policy of the Liberal and National parties to deliver FTTN. We are alarmed by Luke Hartsuyker’s assertion that some places in Cowper can have FTTN now or wait five years for FTTP. (Bellingen Shire Courier-Sun, 18 May 2017). Of more concern is the fact that Luke Hartsuyker is not informing the community that parts of Cowper are getting a second rate FTTN technology (Port Macquarie News, 18 May 2017).

Importantly, we support the push in Bellingen Shire by business and residents for Bellingen Shire Council to “assist the ratepayers by insisting on an equitable, future proofed and robust delivery for Bellingen and Dorrigo townships. Including the areas of Bellingen and Dorrigo currently relegated to FW, to the FTTC rollout.” (Bellingen Shire Courier-Sun,18 May 2017) and urges other local governments in Cowper to support similar initiatives. We believe any additional costs for FTTP/C should be borne by NBN Co and not local government, communities or individuals.

There are other issues as well. NBN Co should not remove ADSL services and replace them with Sky Muster until consumer products, in terms of price and data allowances, are similar. We’ve heard stories of people being taken off ADSL plans with 1000 gigabytes of data and put on SkyMuster with less than 10 per cent of the data allowance for the same cost. Further, with the unreliability of SkyMuster, we believe NBN Co should not replace fixed line telephone services with Sky Muster until performance issues are resolved to the satisfaction of individual customers. Labor has called for an independent review into Sky Muster. There’s myriad problems with Sky Muster, including installation issues, frequent outages and a frustrating lack of transparency between NBN Co and Retail Service Providers, not to mention the severe data restrictions.

Finally, we have a great concern about the ability of the Member for Cowper, the Hon. Luke Hartsuyker MHR, to argue for a better deal for broadband and mobile communications in the electorate. We note Mr Hartsuyker and his spouse are Telstra shareholders (Register of Members’ Interests, 27 September 2016). Telstra is the primary retailer of broadband and mobile communications in Cowper. It is inconceivable that he can be a shareholder of Telstra when he should be focussed on pressuring the company to invest in reliable broadband and mobile service so it meets service obligations. We believe Mr Hartsuyker’s shareholding of Telstra is a conflict of interest as he stands to benefit personally from (a) reduced investment in fixed line, mobile telecommunications and other services by Telstra and (b) a lack of criticism of the company in the public domain. We call on call on Mr Hartsuyker and his spouse to dispose of their Telstra shares.

Thank you.


Labor Spokesperson for Cowper

President, Bellinger River Branch


  • Member for Cowper
  • Shadow Minister for Regional Communications
  • Mayor of Bellingen

Mentioned above


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