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17 April, 2007

MR J.N. HYDE (Perth) [10.01 am]: […] Unlike the eastern states, very little of Perth’s inner city has access to underground cable, broadband or pay TV. Despite the excellent hard work of local Telstra staff, they have to beef up old copper wiring to ADSL level and try to sell it to locals as ADSL broadband. I feel for my constituents working for Telstra and its many subcontractors. They are in a Star Trek episode playing Scotty trying to get warp factor 9 out of 1940s wiring! It is nothing like real broadband. So much of Western Australia has basic telephony and the worst pay television service in all of Australasia.

I could be in a little Thai Isaan village like Baung Kan, which has about 300 people, in the sticks near the Mekong River. It is on the road to Chet Sin Nam Tok, with beautiful waterfalls and water buffaloes strolling down the one main street with paddy fields all around, and it is 750 kilometres from Bangkok. I can get up at 5.00 am, tap a few rubber trees, stroll home, and before breakfast access my Western Australian Parliament e-mails from my WA office at a faster speed than I can when I am in East Perth. In addition, I can get better coverage of Australian Football League games on Thai pay TV near the Mekong River than I can in Perth. Through the Thaicom 3 satellite there is better broadband access and, due to true competition, pay-TV in Asia is much cheaper, with more choice and much higher quality. In Perth the only competition is through the federal government allowing tin-pot start-up telco companies to cherry-pick high-turnover big customers. St Georges Terrace and other pavements have been destroyed with cheap and nasty, uneven access covers. Like many of my constituents, my house still has outside its front fence a little PMG cement cover – it is unobtrusive and even carries copper wires, cockroaches and daddy-long-legs. In the middle of my verge, a large, ugly piece of metal that looks like a barbecue plate that somebody has oxyacetylened off a 44 gallon drum covers a broadband cable to the East Perth transport centre. There is no money in the cheapie start-up telco provider taking on residents, but the commonwealth allows it to destroy our verges without planning approvals and make money from big business without any obligations.


MR J.J.M. BOWLER (Murchison-Eyre – Minister for Local Government and Regional Development) [10.08 am]: I have never been to the Mekong and played with the water buffalo but I played with a few young girls on the Swan River when I was younger!

Ms J.A. Radisich interjected.

Mr J.J.M. BOWLER: My cousins and sister.

Ms J.A. Radisich: That’s even worse!

Mr J.J.M. BOWLER: Present company excluded, member for upper Swan!

Several members interjected.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr P.W. Andrews): Order, members! It is all good fun this morning but in six minutes and 21 seconds the minister will look to me to give him extra time. I hate to interrupt everyone’s good humour, but we need to return to a very important subject.

Mr C.J. Barnett: It was his best speech so far!

Mr J.J.M. BOWLER: And my worst!

Subject: Telecommunications Access [Legislative Assembly – Grievance]

Date: 18 August 2005

Hansard reference: pp. 4247b – 4249a [online (pdf)]

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