BALLARAT could be regarded as the second regional Victorian switch-on site for the National Broadband Network, Minister for Broadband and Communications Senator Stephen Conroy said yesterday.
Speaking after the NBN was switched on in Bacchus Marsh yesterday, Senator Conroy said home and business owners from Ballarat had told him they needed high-speed internet for improvements to commerce, education and health care.
“The roll-out by NBN Co and construction partners on the ground keeps going in Ballarat and by mid-2015, there will be 32,000 homes in Ballarat, Lake Gardens, Invermay Park, Ballarat North, Newington, Soldiers Hill, Black Hill, Eureka and Ballarat East connected,” he said.
Senator Conroy said upgrades to existing telecommunication networks in Ballarat would lead to some disruption during the construction period.
“By definition the NBN needs to have trucks in the streets but there will be proper consultation to ensure businesses aren’t disadvantaged and home owners have all the information they need,” he said.
He dismissed criticism of the cost and construction timeline of the NBN.
“In 1927 a government said ‘we are thinking about future’ and built the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They said ‘almost no one will use today’ but like the NBN it was being built for five and 10 and 20 years in the future.”
“The approach from Tony Abbott is to say no and demolish the NBN,” he said.
Senator Conroy was joined by Ballarat MP Catherine King as Bacchus Marsh became the first town in regional Victoria to be switched on to the NBN.
About 200 homes and businesses can now connect in Bacchus Marsh, with another 6500 homes and business to come online during the next few months.