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Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Page: 654


Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (14:58): My question is to the Minister for Communications. I remind the minister that in my electorate of Solomon the previous government spent tens of thousands of dollars promoting the switch-on of the NBN in July this year. Can the minister provide an update on the progress of the NBN in the Northern Territory?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthMinister for Communications) (14:59): I thank the honourable member for her question. The honourable member remembers very well 12 July this year when the member for Chifley, then the parliamentary secretary for broadband, was in the Northern Territory switching on the NBN. The member for Chifley's powerful charisma was not the only thing the government was bringing to bear to this project. There was over $13 million in building costs, six visits by the former minister, Senator Conroy, and one visit from his successor, the member for Grayndler, who was there hauling fibre on 29 August.

So all of that charisma and millions of dollars you would think an absolutely irresistible combination. Well, as we speak, in the Northern Territory, in built-up areas, there are 322 premises capable of getting a broadband service on the fibre network.

Honourable members interjecting

Mr TURNBULL: But wait! There's more! Five have actually connected! People in the telecoms business, as the member for Chifley would know, are concerned about the cost of multiple truck rolls. This is a network that had multiple ministerial rolls! Senator Conroy went to the Northern Territory more often than there are active connections on the broadband network. You really could not make this up!

The Northern Territory News should have this on the front page—they should have these connections on the front page. Madam Speaker, as you know, they love to have sightings of UFOs on the front page, and there are more of them than there are active customers! And they do like crocodiles as well, and what could be a bigger crock than Labor's propaganda during the election, claiming that connection to the NBN is free? Oh yes, it is free—at the current rate it is about $2 million a connected premises in the brownfield areas. That is hardly free.

All of this has got to change. The adults are back in charge of the NBN. We are conducting a strategic review. On the board there was not one person with experience in the telecommunications industry—not one out of eight! That is not bad: how many people would appoint eight people to a board of a telecom project and have not one telecom person on the board? I tell you: only the Labor Party! Instead, we have four experienced lifelong telecom people on that board, and we will get this project completed sooner, cheaper and more affordably.