Fiona Nash it was who, in reference to the regional parts of Labor's NBN
plan, coined the term "Rural Fraudband". Sadly, the lady has proved to
be as much a fraud as Malcolm Turnbull.
Today is International Rural Women’s Day. Today I promised myself, no
getting on the computer, no locking myself in the office. Today I was
going to catch up on the housework, clean the bombsite of my bedroom
and possibly get into the garden, letting the buzz of the native bees
and flower scents calm the tension that I’ve felt over the last couple
But I’ve taken to my computer to write this blog, something I haven’t
done for a long time. Because I need to spew out the words that are
rattling in my head. Right now I feel sick. My stomach is churning, I
can’t get a proper lungful of air and I feel on the verge of tears. I
feel like someone has kicked me in the guts. And in fact, someone has
verbally kicked me in the guts. Someone, until recently I have
admired, supported from afar and looked up to. Senator Fiona Nash,
Deputy Leader of the National Party, Minister for Regional Communications.
You see, the last couple of weeks (and on and off for two years) I
have spent many, many hours talking (on phone and internet if they
have it) to distraught, frustrated and despairing rural women. They
have watched their businesses go backwards; their kids flounder with
their education. These women have put any career advancements they may
have daydreamed about on the shelf, and packed their kids in the car
and driven several hours just to do a banking transaction or attend a
basic health appointment, things they should be able to do online.
For plenty (albeit not all) rural women, their internet fails them.
Not just occasionally, but regularly, sometimes for weeks on end. Not
just like the massive Telstra outages that do happen, this is an
ongoing problem for many, week in, week out. Even, nay especially, if
they have NBNs swanky new SkyMuster, the technology that was touted as
a game changer. Although technically it could still be called a game
changer, but the game now looks to be lost by many rural women and
But that’s not what’s got me feeling so worked up. It’s the reaction
by those that have the means to fix it. Well more means than what I
do. Today in her International Rural Women’s Day media release,
Senator Nash claims: The roll-out of the nbn along with Skymuster
satellite will allow many rural women to start online businesses and
undertake online education via distance”.
Only once before have I felt more let down by a politician on
something I’m so passionate about. Something that was so important to
my community. That was the time when Joe Ludwig suspended the Live
Export trade to Indonesia. I never expected Senator Nash to so
blatantly stick her head in the sand when it comes to rural families.
To put her own position before her constituents. To blindly follow the
party line, totally disregarding the plight of many.
There is no doubt that Sky Muster could be a step in the right
direction and has been great for a lot of people. There have been some
great stories and results coming out about it. But it is still failing
so many others and will continue to do so with such limited data
allowance and largely unaffordable plans for many rural families.
Between 20-40 customers in an isolated region of Outback Queensland
lost internet for over two weeks recently, when SkyMuster failed them.
An outage deemed by nbn to be non-critical. To them perhaps, but not
to the customers who rely on internet to conduct their business,
educate their children and attend specialist appointments via skype.
Not to the community who relies on these rural businesses to function
One woman spent 7 hours in one day (over several calls) on hold to her
internet Service Provider, trying to report a severe fault. Seven
hours of tying up her landline phone, her only other form of
communication to the outside world. Seven hours of being tied to the
range of that phone (and two-three hours on other days). Over two
weeks of no internet, two weeks of not being able to do any of her
business admin work, to teach her children their set school work, or
to do the community work that she undertakes. Forty kilometres to her
neighbours with working internet to check emails, or four and a half
hours to the closest regional town. It is still not fixed as I write,
pushing it to nearly three weeks. I could go on and on with so many
different but similar stories, but we’d be here for ages.
We know you can’t fix it overnight Senator Nash, nor do we expect
that. We keep trying to highlight issues with you, we want to work
with you to fix this for our amazing rural women, their husbands and
their kids. Every time you blithely ignore the plight of so many rural
women in favour of pushing your own position forward, a little piece
of a rural woman dies somewhere. A little daydream of an online
business, of a career of her own. The little hope that they won’t have
to move to town to access basic internet, a service that the United
Nations declared a basic human right in 2013. The prayer that their
children won’t have to move away so soon. That little bit of belief
that you were going to stand up for us when we needed you the most.
One thing that will not die however is our willpower to be the voice
for those who need us to fight on their behalf to make people realise
that the #datadrought will continue to be an ongoing issue unless the
powers that be actually take the time to listen to the people suffring
it. Dented, frustrated and despairing, but never dead.
David Boxall | My figures are just as good
| as any other figures.
http://david.boxall.id.au | I make them up myself, and they
| always give me innocent pleasure.
| --HL Mencken
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