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Monday, 2 June 2014
Page: 5138


Ms HENDERSON (Corangamite) (11:22): Today we just heard a startling admission in this chamber, and I am pleased to hear the member for Blaxland has finally admitted that he is critical of his own government for his own government's failure to roll out the NBN. What we have seen in the rollout of this infrastructure project is, frankly, an unmitigated disaster. So Clare is right on one issue: yes, it has been—

Mr Clare interjecting

Ms HENDERSON: I am only repeating your own words, because you were speaking about yourself as 'Clare'. So I am just following your example. The member for Blaxland has highlighted that the previous government fundamentally failed to do what it said that it would do.

Since September 2013 the government has put this project back on track. Twice as many Australians are using the NBN today as on election day. In nine months the number of premises covered has increased 65 per cent, from 348,000 to 573,000 premises. Labor underestimated the number of Australians in regional and remote areas who want the NBN by a factor of two to three. What we are delivering is a plan to roll out the NBN to all Australians, and we are proudly doing so.

If you look at the way in which Labor rolled out the NBN in my electorate, it is an absolute disgrace. Areas of the greatest need were ignored altogether. The rollout map in Corangamite excluded all of southern Geelong. They were the areas that most needed the internet, and yet they were completely excluded. So we have seen from the very beginning, from the days when Kevin Rudd first promised the NBN back in 2007 for some $5 billion, a monumental disaster of delivery.

Our strategic review found that the true cost of Labor's NBN is $72.6 billion—$29 billion more than the public were told—and it would take until 2024. That is an absolute disgrace. Labor's NBN would lift broadband costs by up to 80 per cent—$43 per month for a typical household.

Not only have we seen an absolute failure with the rollout we have seen monumental disasters in relation to the various elements of the NBN. Consider the NBN interim satellite service. Labor promised some 250,000 households that they would receive satellite. In fact, just a small fraction of that received it. In my electorate and across many parts of rural and regional Australia there are literally thousands of people who cannot access the internet, because Labor short-changed them on the interim satellite service. It was a total mismanagement of a vital service for rural and regional Australia. We see the same mismanagement in the fixed wireless system; Labor failed to acquire enough spectrum. Again it monumentally underestimated the demand and monumentally failed to deliver as it committed. Without the policy changes that we are making the NBN would be unable to service some 200,000 premises in these areas.

From my experience in a large regional area of Victoria I have seen time and time again that Labor does not care about rural and regional families. It does not care about mobile-phone black spots. It does not understand how important communications are to families living in the country. The fact that Labor did not spend one cent on mobile-phone black spots is an absolute disgrace. We have seen an unmitigated failure by Labor in the way in which it has prioritised communications infrastructure and a monumental failure in the way in which it has been costed. We have heard from the member for Blaxland. The fact of the matter is that these figures are from la-la land. I spoke last week about la-la land—you ruled that that was very much in order—because it is la-la land. This project was delivered irresponsibly and we are proud to be fixing it. (Time expired)