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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 787

Broadband


Senator URQUHART (Tasmania) (14:44): My question is to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. Can the minister please inform the Senate of any recently announced business retail-pricing plans for National Broadband Network services, what they mean for businesses and how they compare with existing ADSL products?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:44): I thank the senator for her question. The small business sector got some very exciting news last week when it comes to the National Broadband Network. I am happy to advise the Senate that on Tuesday, 7 February Optus released its NBN business plans for the small to medium enterprise sector. Optus's small business plans are going to provide SMEs with a vastly superior product offering because they will be delivered over the NBN. Optus are also offering additional web based programs to assist SMEs get on line that are not included in their current ADSL plans. In Optus's business entry level plan, they are even providing double the download data from 50 gigabits to 100 gigabits when compared to their equivalent ADSL product—all delivered over a fibre network, significantly increasing the experience of business in speed and quality of service.

Despite the ongoing scare campaigns waged by the opposition—specifically the members for Bradfield and Wentworth—that the NBN would increase the cost of broadband for families and businesses, Optus's business plans are priced the same as their existing broadband prices over copper. That is right, Mr President—the same. They first claimed residential prices would be unaffordable, and that has been proven to be false, and now the business plans released by Optus confirm the opposition has no credibility whatsoever—none when it comes to NBN pricing. You at least understood that, Senator Birmingham, and you did not make a goose of yourself. This is a very exciting time to be a small business broadband customer in Australia.


Senator URQUHART (Tasmania) (14:46): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate whether any other NBN retail-pricing packages have been announced?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:47): Again, I thank the senator for her question. Earlier today, Telstra launched their pricing and product services over the NBN. Telstra will offer a range of plans on the NBN's 25- and 100-megabit speed tiers with prices that, once again, are comparable to those Telstra offers today on their copper and HFC networks but with significant increases in speeds and quality of service. It is clear from Telstra's plans that they have confidence in the growing Australian demand for higher speeds and capacity. This demonstrates that the Australian telecommunications market recognises the reality that the coalition still refuses to acknowledge—that Australians require and deserve better quality broadband to help them engage with the digital economy. (Time expired)


Senator URQUHART (Tasmania) (14:48): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate what the new NBN retail products will mean for families and small businesses living in rural and regional Australia?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:48): This means that for the first time businesses in rural and regional Australia will no longer be at a competitive disadvantage with their counterparts in metropolitan areas. The tyranny of distance will no longer be a barrier to running a successful business in regional and rural Australia. The NBN will allow families to access infrastructure at an equivalency of price and an equivalency of service.

But what do those opposite think we ought to do? They want to demolish the NBN, dig it up and abolish the uniform wholesale pricing that underpins price parity. Under the Liberals' plans, businesses and families across regional and rural Australia will end up paying more and getting less—paying more and getting less under your plans. There has been a lot of talk about leadership recently. It is about time the National Party started showing some on behalf of regional Australians. (Time expired)