Townsville City Council has criticised the Federal Government for a lack of leadership and communication around the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN).
Speaking at a Parliamentary inquiry hearing in Townsville, into the role and benefits of the NBN, senior economic development officer, Doug Hayward, said the Gillard Government had to step up and provide help for regions affected by the rollout of fibre-to-the-home technology.
“In terms of providing some guidance and leadership, we’re looking to the Federal Government and are looking at the opportunities that could present themselves there,” Hayward said.
“Local government and business organisations are key to that [development] – it needs to be driven from that level – up instead of down.”
Hayward said the announcement of Townsville as one of the first test sites came as a surprise to the council, which only found out from a media statement.
“One of the things about the NBN rollout is that it caught us by surprise – we weren’t prepared for it,” he said. “The first we heard we were in the first release was through a press release – it caught us by surprise. It’s made us re-allocate resources to take advantage of the release.”
Liberal senator Ian McDonald, who represents Towsville federally, has previously raised the issue, claiming a lack of consultation meant the release site chosen by NBN Co did not take full advantage of the council's priorities and resoures.
The council has since begun developing a digital economy strategy to better take advantage of the NBN.
“These things cost resources and the NBN has been a facilitator in that regard… it has caused us to think about how we do business and encourages us to be more innovative,” he said.
The City of Tea Tree Gully in South Australia last month claimed to have also experienced confusion about the NBN rollout, decrying a lack of communication between local communities and NBN Co.
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