Shadow Minister for Communication, Jason Clare, has announced that if elected, Labor would provide fibre-to-the-premise to 10,000 homes and businesses in Bendigo, with construction to start in 2017.
Bendigo’s CBD and then Bendigo’s west and north, including Ascot, Eaglehawk, Epsom, Maiden Gully and Marong, would be upgraded first.
Labor would then transition every home and business with fibre-to-the-node to fibre-to-the-premise, including in Kangaroo Flat, Golden Square, Strathdale and Strathfieldsaye.
In a Facebook post about the plan local Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters said the project would be commissioned in Labor's first term.
"New all housing estates [sic](known as green fields) will continue to be built with fibre-to-the-premise. All NBN fixed wireless towers will be switched-on on time," she said.
Mr Clare criticised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to cancel Labor’s fibre plan for Bendigo, promising to deliver a “second-rate copper NBN”.
“The cost of Malcolm Turnbull's second-rate NBN has almost doubled, and the time it will take to build has more than doubled,” he said.
“In that time, Australia has dropped from 30th in the world for internet speed to 60th.”
“Malcolm Turnbull said that Bendigo would have the NBN by 2016 and that it would be faster and cheaper," Ms Chesters said.
“On all three commitments he failed ... even today, work has only just begun on a handful of homes,” she added.
Liberal candidate for Bendigo, Megan Purcell, disputed Chester’s claim, telling the Bendigo Advertiser thatthe Coalition has connectedmore peopleto the internet each month than Labor connected in its last term in government.
“Under the Turnbull Liberal Government, all Australians will be connected to the NBN by 2020, six to eight years earlier and $30 billion cheaper than Labor’s best projections when they were last in office,” she said.
Ms Chesters said “the Liberals could not be trusted to roll outthe NBN in Bendigo”, citing a “tower debacle”.
“It has taken the Liberal Government three years to switch on four NBN fixed wireless towers,” she said.
Bendigo was not included in NBN Co’s Plan in 2013,but was added in 2015.
Towers at Huntly, Goornong and Sedgwick, which were expected to start operating in March, were left idle, after a planning tribunal decision.
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) backed down on a tower for Mt Camel, near Toolleen, which would have transmitted a signal to Bendigo, after public complaint about “visual amenity”.
NBN Co promised that inactive, fixed wireless towers would be switched on by mid-2016.
Ms Chesters told the Bendigo Advertiser that slow internet was holding central Victoria back.
“The uncertainty of the current government on the NBN has meant any development of the NBN or ADSL has ceased and left many without basic communication infrastructure around central Victoria,” she said.
Ms Chesters said she is contacted more about telecommunication than any other Federal Government matter.
“Access to quality, reliable broadband has become an essential service,” she said.