Federal independent MP, Tony Windsor, this week said his support for the National Broadband Network (NBN) extended back some 18 months, instead of making a choice during the two-week stalemate following last year’s federal election.
Windsor was one of three crossbench MPs instrumental in returning the Labor Party to government in September last year, after the federal election yielded a hung parliament with no clear majority. At the time, he said the NBN had played a key role in the decision, citing a quote from his advisor: ”You do it once, you do it right and you do it with fibre”.
However, while helping to officially launch Armidale as the first mainland site for the NBN this week, Windsor said he had made his mind up on the $36 billion fibre network some 18 months ago following a personal discussion with communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, along with key advisor and former Telstra technician, Alun Davies.
“The genesis of today, in a sense, has nothing to do with a hung parliament, it has a lot to do with a meeting that took place between 15 and 18 months ago in Tamworth where Conroy came up and addressed an audience for about three hours,” he told attendees at the launch ceremony held at Presbyterian Ladies College in Armidale today.
“After that, Alun Davies, Stephen and myself, and Graham from my office... had a discussion about where things were going to and I think it was pretty obvious from that meeting that there was a high degree of enthusiasm… for the concept.”
Windsor used his speech to advertise the potential cost savings and healthcare benefits of real-time monitoring of aged care patients through the NBN.
Some 4882 premises, including student dormitories at the nearby University of New England, are expected to be viable for active fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections as a result of the official launch at the town, though some premises have been treated to a selected trial by Internode, iiNet, iPrimus and Telstra for the past month. A total of 12 providers will offer services to Armidale and the other five mainland sites once the on-boarding process has been completed with NBN Co.
Conroy launched the town’s network at the Presbyterian Ladies College (PLC) in Armidale this morning, accompanied by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and independent MP Tony Windsor.
An announcement on the construction tender for business-as-usual rollout of the network around Australia is also expected shortly, Conroy told ABC Radio this week, following the suspension of the process and scrapping of 14 bids from private companies. It is understood NBN Co is in negotiations with one of the bidders, Silcar, for the majority of the tender.
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