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 of weeks.

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 families.

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 normally.

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.       |  I make them up myself, and they
                                |  always give me innocent pleasure.
                                |                     --HL Mencken
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