A Perth not-for-profit group has galvanised support among its 180 members as part of a concerted effort to get the National Broadband Network rolled out to the 3,500 businesses in their district.
He said the association was championing a priority need ahead of an imminent announcement on which areas across Australia would receive the next instalments of NBN Co infrastructure.
“It’s such a unique business area,” Mr Haddow said.
“We’ve got 3,500 businesses here and we employ about 16,000 people. We’ve only got about 17 people shown on the last census as residents so it’s very much a commercial, industrial, manufacturing area and a lot of the businesses ... in some cases they’ve got to put stuff on storage devices and courier it to send data, which is crazy.”
He said he believed areas that employed large numbers of people and had poor internet connections, such as Malaga and other districts within the City of Swan, should be prioritised above new housing development areas such as Ellenbrook.
Mr Haddow said maps showing Perth’s NBN coverage and planned rollout, especially when compared with Sydney’s more extensive rollout, looked like Western Australia was being treated as a poor relative.
“It’s not just Malaga, it’s really a WA thing,” he said.
“If you look at the maps you’ll see the shadings of what’s available in WA compared to Sydney for example and we just are pitiful.”
NBN manager state corporate affairs Victoria and Western Australia, Michael Moore, told Business News the nationwide rollout plan did not play favourites.
“This is a huge project so to roll it out there’s a lot of planning and it’s decided around what’s the most efficient and effective way to get it right,” Mr Moore said.
“Many groups, councils around Australia are writing to their local members, they’re approaching the minister and they all want priority; and we understand that, but we don’t play favourites.”
Mr Haddow said members of the not-for-profit association who paid their own way to Canberra last month on a lobbying trip had received a hearing with Communication Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s senior adviser on the NBN.
While in Canberra, the association presented a report indicating more than 95 per cent of Malaga businesses that responded to a survey on the NBN said a better internet connection would help their business.
Also, 41 per cent of respondents said a better internet connection would help them reduce costs, 82 per cent said it would help them improve efficiency, and 67 per cent said it would provide reliable customer and supplier communications.