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Monday, 15 November 2010
Page: 2218


Mr TUDGE (3:16 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to claims by NextGen Networks and Optus that struggling families and pensioners will have to pay an extra $30 per month for a standard phone service thanks to the NBN. Given that the government has lost its way with the NBN, when will the government find its way and guarantee that households will not pay a cent more for a basic phone service?


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for his question. I agree with the member to this extent: there is a lot of misinformation out there about the NBN. A lot of misinformation is being used in fearmongering from the opposition. It happened before the election. Indeed, on the last day of the election campaign there was fearmongering about charges in relation to the NBN. The factual position is a very simple one: the government is working its way, through NBN Co., to rolling out around the country super fast broadband so that people can have the services that they need in the future. The Minister representing the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has today taken the House through some of the details of that. It is also true that, as a result of the agreement that the government entered into with Telstra, we are looking forward to migrating customers from the old copper—


Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Prime Minister was asked a very simple question about whether these households would pay a cent more for a basic phone service. If she does not know the answer, she should simply sit down and take it on notice.


The SPEAKER —Order! The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The Prime Minister is responding to the question.


Ms GILLARD —I was talking about the agreement that we have entered into with Telstra to migrate customers from the current copper network to the NBN. That gives rise to the answer to the member’s question. He asked about telephone costs. On telephone costs, I refer him to statements made by the NBN Co. on this matter. They have said that the assertion that he has made in his question and other assertions that have been made in the public media about costs are not right and that they would not be recommending to shareholder ministers—obviously, the shareholder ministers are the ministers in the government with line responsibility and the Minister for Finance and Deregulation—a cost structure that would increase retail costs or costs paid by consumers for a telephone line. The NBN Co. has dealt with this matter. The member is responding to the fearmongering that is around. There is no need for him or any of his constituents to fear increased costs for having a telephone line in their home. It is simply not right. Look at what the NBN Co. has said. If you want to tell your constituents the truth, distribute that statement to them.