Margaret Phillips, Bill Murray and Pat Glassop are upset that Elliott Heads will not be part of the national broadband network.
Margaret Phillips, Bill Murray and Pat Glassop are upset that Elliott Heads will not be part of the national broadband network. Max Fleet

Towns miss out on fast internet

INTERNET users from small townships in the Bundaberg region are fuming at being left out of the federal government’s controversial national broadband network.

Residents say it is unfair they have been shunned by the program, which will provide fast broadband to every town in the country — as long as it has more than 1000 people.

The program will ignore areas such as Apple Tree Creek, Biggenden, Coral Cove, Cordalba, and even the Hummock and Elliott Heads.

This is despite the 2006 census recording 1092 permanent residents within Elliott Heads’s rural locality boundary — but only 810 of those people live within the township itself.

“It’s like we don’t exist — we were left behind 50 years ago,” Elliott Heads resident Patricia Glassop said.

“We’re effectively being told that if we want amenities we should live somewhere else. It would be different if Elliott Heads was a new suburb, but we’ve been here for years.”

More than 200 Elliott Heads residents are under the age of 15, and it is them who will be the worst affected by decision, according to resident Margaret Phillips.

She said it was short-sighted that the rapidly-growing community should not be included.

“We have the Elliott Heads estate that will go ahead in the near future, and there are so many children coming into the area that the schools are full,” she said.

“Why should our school be left out?” Mrs Phillips said.

She said the area had access to fewer amenities and services than when she first moved there 16 years ago, and communications technology was often useless in the area.

“Until the mobile phone tower gets built, there’s no 3G or Optus coverage, and our landline phones go out whenever it rains,” she said.

“I’ve got wires all over my house to antennas so I can get the internet, and I’m one of the lucky ones who is in an area where I can get it.” Bill Murray said he had lived in the area for 27 years, and had lost count of the times he was promised amenities that had failed to turn up.

“Being left off the broadband plan doesn’t worry me so much, but it will be a big problem in a few years time for the students who are trying to keep up,” he said.

Member for Hinkler Paul Neville said it was unacceptable that so many communities in the Bundaberg region would miss out on the program.

“Their taxpayer dollars are being used to build a $43 billion broadband network they will never be able to use, while those who can access the network will be unable to afford it,” he said.

“Given the government plans to take eight years to build its network, people living in larger regional towns are also likely to have to wait, as they will almost certainly be at the end of the list.”



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