Mayor, CEO secure help from NBN as Bendigonians face internet connection dramas

Bendigo visits Canberra
Bendigo visits Canberra

National Broadband Network staff will visit Bendigo to hear firsthand residents’ complaints about their internet access.

The development follows a meeting in Canberra of Bendigo leaders and the telecommunication company’s chiefs.  

City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke and chief executive officer Craig Niemann met with NBN staff and the office of telecommunications minister Mitch Fifield during a visit to the capital on Monday and Tuesday.

Cr O’Rourke said Mr Fifield’s office was disappointed to hear Bendigo was among the regions experiencing NBN hiccups. 

The mayor believed an NBN pledge for community engagement activities in Bendigo would reap results for customers battling poor internet connection.

“Where people have got issues, they've (NBN) got to speak to them directly,” Cr O’Rourke said. 

But she encouraged consumers to log their complaints with the telecommunications ombudsman. 

The Bendigo leaders also spoke with Nationals senator Fiona Nash, who earlier this year asked colleagues to investigate which of their departments could relocate to regional Australia.  

Asked what agency she thought would suit Bendigo, Cr O’Rourke said none were being discounted.

“No department is out of reach,” the mayor said. 

Also on the agenda of meetings with MPs Jane Hume and Angus Taylor was Bendigo’s bid to become a Smart Cities pilot site. 

Members of the Smarter Bendigo consortium made their case to Canberra as recently as February, but Cr O’Rourke said work done since then impressed elected officials. 

“The good thing about what we're proposing is we'll still be working on this irrespective of whether we are endorsed or not,” she said, adding it was her hope Bendigo would be selected for the project.

The visit was also the first time a pitch was made for federal funding towards Heathcote Health’s proposed dementia village.

The project, which would provide specialised accommodation for people living with the condition, needs $300,000 before a feasibility study can be carried out.  

Past council visits to Canberra secured funding for Ulumbarra, Bendigo Airport and Soldiers’ Memorial Institute upgrade.