More than 14,500 homes and businesses across the Baw Baw, Latrobe, South Gippsland, Wellington and Bass Coast local government areas can now enjoy access to faster and more reliable speeds at the busiest times thanks to upgrades of the local NBN Fixed Wireless network.  

Using cutting-edge technology, the upgrades are boosting the performance of the NBN Fixed Wireless network to enable a smoother experience, even at the busiest times. By mid-next year the upgrades will also enable access to plans that are around four times faster than what is currently available.   

As well as benefiting from improved speeds, the upgrades are also extending the range of the NBN Fixed Wireless network. Around 775 homes and businesses in the local area that were previously only able to access NBN services via the NBN Sky Muster satellite service, can now access to the NBN Fixed Wireless network for the first time.   

These upgrades come as the latest NBN data shows that homes and business across Australia are using more devices and demanding more data and speed than ever before. In 2023, the NBN network usage records were set and broken three times. The average Australian NBN user downloaded around 423GB per month – an increase of more than 50 per cent compared to three years ago.  

The upgrades to the NBN Fixed Wireless network aim to ensure that the NBN network can stay ahead of this increased demand and continue to support Australians as their need for speed and increased data volumes continues to grow.  

The Fixed Wireless upgrades are one part of NBN’s commitment to delivering better broadband for the regional Australia, which also includes full fibre upgrades via NBN Fibre to the Premises and making uncapped data (subject to fair use policy and shaping) usage available on the NBN Sky Muster Plus satellite network.  

Emily Peel, the head of NBN local Victoria said “We are delighted that we have delivered significant improvements to the local NBN Fixed Wireless network. 

These upgrades mean that customers can enjoy access to faster and more reliable speeds, especially at the busiest times of the day, which we know is important to them.  

We are on a mission to deliver even better broadband right across regional Australia, to support the ever-increasing data needs and enable people to do the online activities and services that are most important to them.  

These local upgrades are a part of our broader Fixed Wireless upgrade program, which should see around a million premises benefit by the end of next year."

For more information on the upgrades, please visit this link: Home | nbn (nbnco.com.au) and enter your address.

  

A few weeks ago, Australians were impacted by the breakdown of outages that affected Woolworths stores and ANZ banks simultaneously.

Today…10 million people across Australia are feeling the impacts of Optus’ massive outage.

This is the biggest telco outage in our nation’s history - and it won’t be the last!

Today’s chaos is a stark reminder of what happens when technology fails.  I suggest you be both alert and very alarmed that our nation is so exposed to these threats – and made worse because there’s no back up plan in sight.

Not being able to phone or work is one thing, but when these systems failure prevent you from purchasing food for your kids because your card is on your phone – well that’s quite another.

I don’t know about you, but I’m concerned about the increasing number of businesses that tell me I can’t pay with cash. The last time I checked, cash was still legal tender, and I should be able to use it as such.  

Keeping cash alive is going to be an uphill battle – especially now that businesses are no longer obligated to accept cash.

A cashless society is right on our doorstep. Did you know that in the past 12 months alone, 424 bank outlets closed and a massive 718 ATMs shut down across Australia?  

And because the regions have been disproportionately impacted by these bank closures, it’s taking a huge toll on people in communities like ours, particularly the elderly. 

I haven’t always carried cash, but I do now. Having lived through several bushfire and flood disasters where the electricity was cut off for days, and with ongoing technology failures, outages and data breaches, I encourage everyone around me to do likewise.

Cash gives us the freedom to spend and save as we choose….not to mention it’s a lifeline for buskers, restaurant staff, and the tooth fairy!

 So, as the saying goes, "Use it or lose it."  Keep cash alive - it’s just common cents!

The Victorian Premier’s decision yesterday to shut down Victoria’s world class sustainable hardwood native timber industry on 1 January 2024, is another kick in the guts for our small regional communities.

Mr Broadbent said “Local timber industries not only keep local people employed, they keep our small towns running. For the Victorian Government to close this industry, six years ahead of schedule, without any transition plan in place, is short-sighted and shows contempt for the communities and families that will lose their livelihoods. It’s yet another blow during already stressful economic times.”

The native hardwood timber industry is not what it was 30 years ago. It’s become a sophisticated and environmentally sustainable industry that protects communities and wildlife from bushfires. By law, every tree harvested by the timber industry is regrown, with VicForests harvesting and regenerating approximately 3000 hectares each year.

We need active forest management in our region to support multiple uses such as camping, hiking, prospecting, beekeeping, fishing, and a sustainable native hardwood timber industry. The skills of these timber industry workers are hard to find and workers facing unemployment should be prioritised for roles in forest management, fuel reduction and other environmental work that protects our regional communities.

The Albanese Labor Government’s announcement that they are cutting the additional Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions introduced by the Coalition has ripped away mental health support for vulnerable Australians in Monash.

As part of our response to support Australians in tough times, the former Coalition Government doubled the number of Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions available through the Better Access initiative from 10 to 20.

Going into the holiday period with a new Covid wave peaking, the cost of living and energy bills sky rocketing, and floods continuing to impact parts of the country, mental health support could not be more important for my local community in Monash.

But despite the significant pressures still impacting our community, the Labor Government has decided to slash access to psychology sessions in half. 

Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Anne Ruston said, ‘it is staggering that the Albanese Government has decided right now is a good time to rip away additional mental health support from Australians who have been relying on it.”

‘Serious mental health issues are often at their highest two to three years after a crisis, pandemic or natural disaster, which is why it is absolutely vital that vulnerable Australians have continued access to the psychology sessions they need.’

“We know the holiday season can be a challenging time for people’s mental health and when they need support the most, the Government has proven they are not willing to provide that support,’ Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Melissa McIntosh MP said.

“Sadly, the Government is sending us down the track of mental health services becoming less and less accessible to millions of Australians,” Mrs McIntosh said.

“Member for Monash, Russell Broadbent MP said, "these changes are particularly worrying for my local community and I urge the Labor Government to re-think this decision."

"Access to mental health support is critical right now, particularly for young people in my electorate, and this decision in the midst of the holiday season is devastating."

“We are already facing difficulties with mental health caused by the Covid pandemic. This is the wrong time to be making these cuts,” Mr Broadbent said.

To rub salt into the wounds of vulnerable Australians, the Minister for Health Mark Butler has even tried to argue that in making this thoughtless cut, they are ‘improving better access’ to mental health services.

The independent evaluation of the Better Access initiative has even recommended that ‘the additional 10 sessions should continue to be made available and should be targeted towards those with complex mental health needs.’

The Labor Government needs to stop their irresponsible attacks on the mental health services Australians are relying on and explain why they have gone against Recommendation 12 of the review, and the needs of vulnerable Australians, by cutting this support.

A Dutton government would support older Australians, who choose to work more, by doubling the amount of income age pensioners and veteran service pensioners can earn without reducing pension payments.

This change will make it more worthwhile for older Australians to pick up an extra shift or work extra hours and help small and regional businesses deal with labour shortages.

The Leader of the Opposition the Hon Peter Dutton MP calls on the Albanese Government to implement the policy immediately to help relieve pressure on a very tight labour market.

“Employers can’t find staff – thousands of jobs across hospitality, agriculture, tourism and retail remain open,” Mr Dutton said.

“This policy ensures that pensioners and veterans, who want to work, are not financially penalised. It puts more money into their pocket.

“There are around 80,000 age pensioners and veterans who are choosing to work who will likely benefit from this change,” Mr Dutton said.

Currently, age pensioners and veteran service pensioners can earn $300 of income each fortnight without impacting pension payments. Under the proposed change, age pensioners will be able to earn up to $600 a fortnight and still receive the maximum pension payment. Pensioners will continue to accrue unused pension work bonus amounts up to a maximum of $7,800, which can exempt future earnings from the pension income test.

Well targeted policy, designed to increase labour supply, will ease workplace shortages and put downward pressure on inflation and interest rates.

Labor’s big spending agenda, which includes $18.3 billion of direct spending, and $45 billion in off-budget funds, and ill designed policies, which discourage Australians from working and earning more, will achieve the opposite: put upward pressure on inflation and interest rates.

The proposed change is expected to have a cost to the Budget of $145 million in 2022-23.

A Dutton government would review, on an annual cycle, the merits of extending the policy change to future years taking into account changes in overseas net migration levels, the unemployment rate and the workforce participation rate. The Labor Government must outline its plan to ease cost of living pressures and put downward pressure on inflation. Australians can’t afford to wait for Labor to get its act together.

A new cancer treatment centre to be built at West Gippsland Health Group will change lives and improve regional health outcomes thanks to funding from the Federal Coalition Government.

Federal Member for Monash, Russell Broadbent, visited the site of the new facility this week with State Liberal Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood

Mr Broadbent said a growing population in West Gippsland meant it was critical that health services kept up with public demand and expectation.

“This $4.5 million cancer treatment centre funded in this year’s Federal Budget will change the lives of local and district residents’, Mr Broadbent said.

“The Federal Coalition Government has been a strong supporter of our vital regional health network, and this project will ensure we have the facilities we need here and now in Monash to support locals in their time of need.

“This funding ensures residents have local access to critical cancer support including chemotherapy, consulting and support services.

“We’re committed to the future of healthcare in West Gippsland and supporting our West Gippsland Hospital is vital for our rural and regional communities that rely on it for their care.

State Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood said with population booming in Drouin, Warragul and surrounding towns, it was essential that this project went ahead to give people the access to the treatment they need close to home.

“We know Drouin and Warragul are growing at a rapid rate, and that creates significant pressure on our local health service,” Mr Blackwood said.

“Having access to cancer treatment close to home can drastically change the treatment experience for people, keeping them close to their friends, family and support networks.

“That results in better treatment, better support and importantly better health outcomes.

“We need to ensure our health service is protected for the long term and is given the support it deserves to care for our community, and I am proud a Federal Coalition Government is delivering this critical investment for our region.

Comments from West Gippsland Health Group Dan Weeks  “We’re thrilled that the new Chemotherapy Unit will offer expanded operating hours and increased capacity to meet the growing needs for cancer services in the community.”

More road and community infrastructure projects will be rolled out across Monash, thanks to a further $500 million in funding for the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) Program.

The Morrison-Joyce Government is continuing to deliver for local communities through the 2022-23 Budget.

Federal Member for Monash Russell Broadbent said local councils would directly benefit from the funding boost.

“This funding injection for our hard-working local councils means even more funding for upgrades to local roads, bike paths, community halls, playgrounds, parks and sports facilities, as well as improved accessibility to public facilities,” Mr Broadbent said.

“Providing more time for planning and construction will enable local governments to consider a broader range of priority projects and potentially undertake larger, more complex developments to deliver even great benefits for their communities.”

Councils in Monash will receive the following payment through the Phase 3 extension of the LRCI Program:

·  Bass Coast Shire Council - $923,666

·  Baw Baw Shire Council - $1,795,027

·  Cardinia Shire Council - $1,691,139

·  Latrobe City Council - $1,700,085

· South Gippsland Shire Council - $2,384,531

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the quick delivery of projects under the LRCI Program will stimulate local economies.

“This highly successful program has supported an estimated 9,000 jobs and nearly 7,900 individual projects,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Our additional funding brings the total Commonwealth Government commitment to the Local Roads and Community Program to $3 billion.

“Delivering more local road and community infrastructure projects will make and towns and communities stronger and wealthier, and that is why we continue to invest in this vital initiative.”

Assistant Minister for Local Government Kevin Hogan said the program forms part of the Liberal and Nationals commitment to back local councils and their communities through COVID-19 and secure a stronger future out the other side of the pandemic.

"Local councils have been putting in some hard yards supporting their communities through the toughest times of the last few years, so I'm thrilled to be putting even more funding in their hands to help them do that," Assistant Minister Hogan said.

"This program also asks local councils to use local businesses and workforces to deliver their projects where possible and that's exactly what we have been seeing, meaning these funds continue to flow on to hard-working Aussies, their families, and then back into their communities."

Councils will be able to access funding through the LRCI Phase 3 extension from July 2023.

For more information on the LRCI Program, visit https://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/about/local-initiatives/local-roads-and-community-infrastructure/

Significant funding commitments in the 2022-23 Budget will drive the growth of towns and communities across Monash, creating jobs and driving our economic growth into the future.

The Government is continuing to get the job done for our regions, delivering the projects and infrastructure that make regional towns and cities better places to live, work and visit.

Our continued investment in the regions is what sets us apart from the Labor Party, who don’t believe in regional Australia and don’t stand behind the people who live outside of capital cities.

Russell Broadbent, Federal Member for Monash said through the 2022-23 Budget, the Coalition Government is continuing to deliver for the people of Monash.

“Our Government’s investments are building strong and resilient communities across Monash,” Mr Broadbent said.

“Programs like the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program and the Stronger Communities Programme make a significant difference in our region.

“Vital local projects help create more jobs and unlock the economic potential in our region, such as the South Gippsland Highway – Koonwarra realignment, the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre and the GSRT Railway Precincts Development in Leongatha and Korumburra.

“The Coalition believes in regional Australia, which is why we are continuing to fund the services and creating the opportunities that people in capital cities take for granted.

“Our investments will also create local jobs and new economic opportunities for locals, lifting their standard of living and enabling them to pursue their dreams.”

This year’s Budget includes significant new funding for existing programs that drive the growth and success of regional towns and communities.

LOCAL ROADS AND COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAM

We are investing an additional $500 million in the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) Program, a major boost to communities across the country.

This funding will support more community infrastructure projects, boosting local jobs and driving the economic growth to make our nation as strong as possible as quickly as possible.

Our additional funding brings the total Commonwealth Government commitment to the LRCI Program to $3 billion.

Projects already funded through the LRCI program include:

STRONGER COMMUNITIES PROGRAMME

A further $22.7 million has been committed for an additional round of the Stronger Communities Programme (SCP), delivering more funding for small capital projects in federal electorates.

Projects funded under the SCP aim to improve local community participation and contribute to vibrant viable communities.

This latest funding injection takes the Government’s total investment under the SCP to $167.8 million.

Projects funded through the Stronger Communities Programme include:

The Morrison Government’s plan for a stronger future provides cost of living relief, creates more jobs, guarantees the essential services and keeps Australians safe, including in Monash.

Russell Broadbent Member for Monash said, “Australia’s economic recovery is leading the world.”

“More Australians are in work than ever before and the unemployment rate is now forecast to reach 3¾ per cent in 2022, the lowest rate in close to 50 years.”

Risks to the outlook remain, with the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine all putting pressure on the cost of living for Australian households. 

As part of the Budget 2022‑23, the Government is: 

Cost of living relief 

“The Government is introducing a new temporary, targeted and responsible cost of living package to take the pressure off household budgets.” Mr Broadbent said.

Jobs 

The Government is investing in measures to expand and upskill the workforce to secure the workers we need now and for the future, including people in Monash.

This will also help Australians into more highly skilled and better paying jobs. 

Backing small businesses 

Small businesses will have access to a new 20 per cent bonus deduction for eligible external training courses for upskilling employees.

The Skills and Training Boost will apply to expenditure incurred from Budget night until 30 June 2024, providing $550 million in tax relief.

The Government is also providing $1 billion for a new Technology Investment Boost to encourage small businesses to go digital.

Small businesses will be able to deduct a bonus 20 per cent of the cost of expenses and depreciating assets that support digital uptake.  

Expenditure of up to $100,000 per year will be supported by this new measure, which applies from Budget night until 30 June 2023.

Essential services 

“A strong economy enables the Government to guarantee the essential services Australians rely on.” Mr Broadbent said.

“Since coming to office, we have delivered record levels of funding for health, aged care, education and disability support.”

The Government has allocated $6 billion for the COVID-19 Health response, which includes support for the Governments’ Winter Response Plan to prepare for the next wave of COVID‑19 and influenza. 

Infrastructure 

Mr Broadbent said, “The Government is investing an unprecedented $37.9 billion in regional Australia and priority infrastructure across the nation to create jobs and unlock the economic potential in our regions, including vital local projects such as the South Gippsland Highway – Koonwarra realignment, the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre and the GSRT Railway Precincts Development in Leongatha and Korumburra.

This includes $7.1 billion for transformative investments including in the Northern Territory, North and Central Queensland, the Pilbara and the Hunter to unlock new economic frontiers of production in agriculture, low emissions manufacturing and renewable energy.

The Government has increased its 10‑year transport infrastructure pipeline to a record $120 billion with an additional $17.9 billion committed to road, rail and community infrastructure projects supporting around 40,000 jobs.

Including through its $8.9 billion National Water Grid Fund, the Government will provide a further $7.4 billion to improve Australia’s water security and open up new land for irrigation.

As well as projects in each state and territory, the Government is investing:  

Keeping Australians Safe 

We are living in a time of uncertainty.  

The pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine and extreme weather events have and continue to cause enormous disruption. 

To keep Australians safe the Government will: 

Russell Broadbent, Member for Monash said, “the Budget delivers the next stage of the Government’s plan to build a strong economy and a stronger future.”

Budget documents are available at www.budget.gov.au  

The Liberal and Nationals Government is investing over $4.77 million in priority projects across South Gippsland, supporting local jobs, businesses and the resilience of local economies to help communities bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Made possible under the third phase of the Australian Government’s $2.5 billion Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) program, projects to be delivered by South Gippsland Shire Council include:

Federal Member for Monash Russell Broadbent said the funding reflects South Gippsland Shire Council’s top priorities and will ensure the needs of our local communities are met.

“With the challenges presented by COVID-19, bushfires, floods and other events, the past couple of years have been tough for communities, businesses and local councils,” Mr Broadbent said.

“That’s why we have moved quickly to approve funding for 10 projects across South Gippsland, paving the way for shovels to hit the dirt to make them a reality.

“This will provide a vital boost for our local communities, backing local jobs and economic growth while delivering lasting upgrades that will benefit residents for years to come.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said $1 billion in funding is flowing under the third phase of the LRCI program to local councils across Australia to improve their local road networks and deliver priority community infrastructure projects.

“This builds on the $1.5 billion already approved to deliver more than 6,100 projects nationwide under the first two phases of the program,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“This program is having a significant impact across the country, with more than 2,000 projects already complete or under construction – delivering upgrades to local roads, bike paths, community halls, playgrounds, parks and sports facilities, as well as improved accessibility to public facilities.

“Phase 3 will build on this, delivering more jobs, more economic stimulus, and more of the local priority projects that communities need and deserve.”

Assistant Minister for Local Government Kevin Hogan said the program forms part of the Liberal and Nationals unwavering commitment to back local councils and their communities through COVID-19 and secure a stronger future out the other side of the pandemic.

“We want to deliver the best outcomes for locals under this program, which is why we have listened and acted on council feedback, providing a longer delivery window for local governments to pursue larger, more complex projects that may be a higher priority and have a bigger impact on the community,” Assistant Minister Hogan said.

“We also get councils to use local businesses and workforces to deliver these projects as much as possible, ensuring this stimulus flows directly into the hands of hard-working Aussies, their families, their businesses and their communities.

“I look forward to seeing more projects get underway and supporting jobs and communities at this critical time.”

For more information on the $2.5 billion LRCI program, including the allocations for the $1 billion third phase, visit https://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/local-roads-and-community-infrastructure/.

The electorate of Monash will have access to a significantly more capable NBN network following a $480 million investment by the Morrison Government in the 2022-23 Federal Budget.

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the investment in NBN Co’s non‑commercial fixed wireless network will significantly improve the quality of services being provided over the NBN fixed wireless and satellite networks.

“By using the latest 4G and 5G wireless technology, this upgrade will extend the coverage range from a tower, and allow higher speed services to everyone served by the tower,” said Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP.

“This means more people can be served by NBN fixed wireless; it means higher speed services on the NBN fixed wireless network; and it means higher amounts of data can be used by households and business customers. The upgrade will expand the fixed wireless footprint coverage by up to 50 per cent, enabling 120,000 additional premises to access fixed wireless services instead of Sky Muster satellite services,” Minister Fletcher said.

This upgrade will see NBN offer new higher speed services to the fixed wireless network: 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) to all 750,000 premises able to access the new, expanded coverage footprint, and a 250 Mbps service will be available to 85 per cent of premises.

It also means much higher actual speeds during the “network busy hour” – the time of day when the network is most heavily used, typically around 8:00 pm at night. The network design metric for the busy hour today is 6 Mbps; this will rise sharply following the upgrade, to 50 Mbps. This means customers will benefit even if they do not order a higher speed plan, as they will experience a sharp increase in the actual speed of their current plan.

This upgrade also means big benefits for NBN satellite users. Because some existing NBN satellite customers will move to fixed wireless, this will free up capacity on the satellite network.

As a result, NBN Co will be able to offer an almost immediate increase in average data allowances for NBN Sky Muster satellite users. Average monthly data allowances for standard Sky Muster plans will increase to 55 Gigabytes (GB) in the short term, increasing to 90GB once the fixed wireless upgrade is complete in around two years’ time.

Federal Member for Monash, Russell Broadbent, said the investment in the NBN was a welcome decision by the Morrison Government.

“Regions like ours across Australia made their voices heard through the Regional Telecommunications Review – telecommunications matters for every community, including ours, and this is very much a welcome investment in the region’s future,” Mr Broadbent said.

“Having access to reliable and high speed internet can really make a difference for people in our community, whether that be families connecting with loved ones, to business owners selling goods here and overseas.”

Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, said the investment would drive major improvements to regional telecommunications quality, helping to bridge the digital divide many Australian communities often face.

“The NBN is a critical and core part of our national infrastructure and economy, enabling employment, connecting families, and supporting business, including in the electorate of Monash,” Minister McKenzie said.

“This investment provides a comprehensive response to Recommendation 6 of the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review, and is one part of a suite of measures we will announce as part of the Government’s response to the Review in coming weeks.”

Minister for Finance Simon Birmingham said this $480 million funding boost in major network upgrades would significantly improve services to customers, particularly those in regional areas.

“This is another important investment in the NBN that will deliver better and faster internet to Australian households and businesses across the fixed wireless network,” Minister Birmingham said.

“The NBN has been there to support Australians throughout the pandemic. Our Government will continue to make critical investments in the NBN that will enhance the internet experience for households and businesses right now and into the future.

“With faster internet and more data available, these improved services will directly benefit premises already using NBN fixed wireless and satellite services, and particularly the approximately 50,000 regional businesses with active fixed wireless services, including many in the Monash region, producing extensive economic opportunities..”

The 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review was chaired by the Hon Luke Hartsuyker with four other committee members: Ms Sue Middleton; Ms Kristy Sparrow; Professor Hugh Bradlow; and Mr Michael Cosgrave.

The Committee’s report, titled Step Change in Demand, was presented to the Australian Government in December 2021 and tabled in parliament on 14 February 2022.

For more detail on the Hartsuyker Review and the Committee’s report, a Step Change in Demand, visit https://www.rtirc.gov.au/

For more detail on NBN Co’s fixed wireless network, visit https://www.nbnco.com.au/learn/network-technology/fixed-wireless-explained

Russell Broadbent MP
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