TRANSCRIPT - ABC AM with Michael Brissenden
E & OE
Subjects: NBN, media reform
Senator Fifield we’ve spoken with locals in South Western
Queensland and far Western Queensland who say they have some of the worst
internet service in the country. Some people in small towns and rural
properties say it’s hampering their business opportunities and making it harder
to give their children a proper education. It is a pretty bad situation for
them at the moment isn’t it?
Look there is no
doubt that there’s high levels of frustration particularly in regional areas
with broadband speeds which is why we’re working incredibly hard to roll out
the NBN nationwide and why we’re pursuing what we call a multi-technology mix
approach. Which will see us able to roll the NBN out nationwide 6 to 8 years
sooner than otherwise would have been the case, and at 20 to 30 billion dollars
So it’s pretty hard to push a message of innovation
thought if you can’t get your internet to work though isn’t it?
Look, I fully
appreciate the frustration. One of the great benefits of having fast broadband
nationwide will be, not only will people in regional areas have the opportunity
to stay there and to do their business, to do their work, but also people in
metropolitan areas will have a greater choice about where they do their work
and will have much more opportunity to embrace the great lifestyle that
regional Australia offers.
The Sky Muster
satellite was launched, well a few weeks ago now, due to be switched on next
year. It will still mean though that there’s fairly limited capacity,
particularly when people out in the bush can only get 5 megabits of upload and
the download speeds are good, but the upload speeds are still going to be too
slow for some things.
Well, it’ll still be
a significant improvement on the current situation. I appreciate that there is
some scepticism about the long term satellite that the NBN will offer. And
that’s because the experience that people have had with the interim satellite
service has been so appalling. The previous government simply didn’t purchase
enough space on the interim satellite which means that a cap was reached very
quickly and the quality of the service that people are receiving is
deteriorating. So huge frustration. Understandable frustration. Understandable
scepticism about satellite services as a result. But the long term satellite
service will be a dramatic improvement on what people are currently
Is there a danger though that, that will also
reach a cap pretty quickly?
It’s very important to make sure that NBN
manage the capacity of the satellite well. NBN is going to be developing what’s
called a fair use policy. To make sure some of the important community uses
don’t get crowded out. But the long term satellite will have capacity for about
400,000 premises. Probably eventually about half that number are expected to
subscribe. So there is good capacity and we’re also going to have a second
satellite to make sure that we’ve got inbuilt redundancy.
Okay. Just on another regional issue which is
the media laws. There are reports that your Government is about to give the new
round of media changes the nod. Have you started talks with the Senate
crossbench about scrapping the reach rule?
Look I’m chatting all my parliamentary
colleagues. Regional colleagues. Coalition colleagues. Labor Party colleagues.
Crossbench colleagues. And those discussions are well underway.
What response have you got then?
I've got to say the response has been pretty
positive. There’s been a recognition, because it’s hard to deny, that our media
laws do not reflect the world that we live in. That they were crafted in a
pre-digital age, for a pre-digital age. Regional TV operators in particular,
want to have the freedom to configure their businesses in the way that can make
them most viable. That’s the strong message that I’m getting from my regional
colleagues in particular.
So it sounds like the reach rule which
prevents major networks from buying regional affiliates is about to be
Well that’s one of the things that’s on the
table. I’m not being specific about what the elements of media reform package
may be. It’s important to go through good Party Room and good Cabinet
processes. But there is no doubt that it’s reasonable and appropriate that we
as a government look to make our media laws fit for purpose so they reflect the
world that we live in.
Okay we’ll leave it there, thanks very much
Justine Sywak | 0448 448 487 | Justine.email@example.com