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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12255

Broadband


Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (14:49): My question is to the Minister for Communications. Will the minister update the House on the progress of the National Broadband Network in my home state of Victoria and on steps the government is taking to ensure that the network is rolled out sooner, at less cost to the taxpayer and consumers?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthMinister for Communications) (14:49): I thank the honourable member for his question. The progress of the NBN in Victoria under those opposite was not just anaemic it was virtually comatose. Indeed, as of September last year there were more sightings of Labor leader, Daniel Andrews, than there were of the NBN!

But all that has changed. The NBN is now on track in Victoria. Since the election we have trebled the number of premises passed with fibre in Victoria and we have quadrupled the number of premises that are actually connected. So that is what has happened in one year versus the anaemic performance of the Labor Party over six years.

But of most importance in rural and regional Victoria, including the honourable member's seat, is the rollout of the fixed wireless network. Many people in urban Australia have reasonably good—some very good—broadband and the NBN will improve that markedly. But in regional and rural Australia there are far too many people with no broadband at all—no broadband at all!—and the fixed wireless solution is absolutely transformative. And there the progress has been considerable.

In the honourable members own seat of McMillan we now have fixed wireless services active in areas covering 2,700 premises, with construction underway in areas covering an additional 2,000 premises. And across the state, including in the seats of many of my colleagues here, there is construction going on in areas that cover 19,000 premises.

Honourable members will understand that the focus of the government is to complete the National Broadband Network sooner, cheaper and more affordably.

An incident having occurred in the gallery—

Mr TURNBULL: And one of the big changes that we are making, obviously, is not to proceed with an all fibre-to-the-premises rollout in the fixed-line areas, but instead to use a mix of technologies, including fibre-to-the-node and including upgrading HFC networks to ensure that everyone gets very fast broadband but at much less cost.

I would just draw honourable members' attention to a very interesting piece in CommsDay today which showed that even though Japan has the largest percentage of fibre of any comparable big country in the world, Australians on their current connections are downloading substantially more data. The reality is that just because you have got high line speed, it does not mean you are going to use the internet more. It is a very complex equation and it is important to judge this intelligently.