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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 11999

Broadband


Mr CLARE (Blaxland) (14:33): My question is to the Prime Minister. Before the last election, the Prime Minister promised that he would build his second-rate version of the NBN for 29½ billion dollars. The NBN corporate plan now reveals that the cost of his second-rate version of the NBN will now cost almost double that, up to $56 billion. Does the Prime Minister admit that this massive blow-out is a broken promise?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:34): The honourable member seems to be living in a world of complete denial. Here are the facts: the Labor government embarked on the NBN project in a manner unprecedented anywhere else in the world without having any idea as to how much it would cost or how much it would take. The whole policy formation process took only 11 weeks.

Ms King interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Ballarat will cease interjecting.

Mr TURNBULL: It was the single most reckless decision of the Rudd era. It involved a commitment of tens of billions of dollars. Everywhere else in the world and prior to that in Australia—

Mr Ewen Jones interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Herbert will cease interjecting.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will cease interjecting.

Mr Mitchell interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McEwen will cease interjecting.

Mr Dreyfus: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This question is—

The SPEAKER: The point of order? On the point of order.

Mr Dreyfus: very directly about the Prime Minister's promise—

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will resume his seat unless he states the point of order.

Mrs Griggs interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Solomon will cease interjecting. The Prime Minister is in order. It was a long question with many aspects to it. He is completely in order.

Mr TURNBULL: Everywhere else in the world the model has been for the existing, generally private sector, telcos to get on with the job and for governments to provide specific subsidies to ensure that people, particularly in regional and remote areas, get a service. That is what our neighbours in New Zealand, for example, did and very successfully. Only here, in what was apparently the socialist paradise of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard—and Stephen Conroy in Conrovia—was it conceived that the government would undertake this entire project—no wonder it ran off the rails.

The fact is that nobody knew what the real numbers were with the NBN until very recently. The government did not know.

Mr Bowen interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McMahon will cease interjecting.

Mr TURNBULL: We made our best estimates and our best forecasts for every number and we did that from opposition. The Labor government, incumbent with the company, with access to the company systems, did not even know how much it was costing to connect a premises with fibre. They were clueless—absolutely clueless; clueless, and wasting billions of dollars.

We actually now know what the project is costing, and we know what the alternatives are, and the facts are that if we were to proceed with the Labor Party's alternative it would take six to eight years longer and cost up to $30 billion more. So I say to honourable members opposite: to your constituents who do not have access to very fast broadband now and want it, your message is, 'Vote Labor and wait longer.

Ms Rowland interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Greenway will cease interjecting.

Mr TURNBULL: Vote Labor and pay more. Vote Labor and wait another eight years. Vote Labor and pay higher costs.' What a great deal that is! That is going to be the Labor message. We are getting on with the job, we are cleaning up your mess and we are building the network.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House can cease interjecting. Just in case the members for Greenway and Ballarat did not hear me repeatedly request they cease interjecting, they are now both warned.

Mr Clare: Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table the coalition's 2013 election promises—

The SPEAKER: Is leave granted? Leave is not granted.