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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 80


Mr COLEMAN (Banks) (14:58): My question is to the Minister for Communications. Will the minister update the House—

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Minister for Communications is asking for the opportunity to answer the question. He is indicating—

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The member will resume his seat. The member for Banks has the call.

Mr COLEMAN: My question is to the Minister for Communications. Will the minister update the House on how NBN Co's revised agreements with Optus and Telstra will assist in rolling out high-speed broadband to all Australians sooner, at less cost to taxpayers and more affordably for consumers?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthMinister for Communications) (14:59): I want to thank the member for Banks for his question. When the Labor government established the NBN project, it entered into a most remarkably uncommercial set of agreements with Telstra and Optus whereby NBN Co and the Australian government would pay tens of billions of dollars to Telstra and Optus to switch off their copper networks, their cable TV networks and their hybrid fibre coax networks so that the NBN could overbuild it with fibre to the premises.

What was remarkable was that Senator Conroy and Prime Minister Gillard did not bother to reserve the right to use any part of that infrastructure they were paying Telstra and Optus to decommission. They paid them entirely for it—complete value—but had no right to use any part of it. What we have managed to do, and concluded at the end of last year—

Mr Champion interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield will remove himself under 94(a).

The member for Wakefield then left the chamber .

Mr TURNBULL: was to agree with Telstra and Optus, for no additional payment—and I stress this: for no additional payment—to be able to use those copper and hybrid fibre coax networks to enable us to complete the project much sooner, much cheaper and much more affordably.

Now, turning to the member for Banks's electorate: 77 per cent of the premises in his electorate are passed with cable TV networks—the HFC networks. They would all have been switched off by the Labor Party, decommissioned and turned into junk. They can now be used to deliver—as they do today—100 megabit per second speeds and, with very straightforward modifications which are being deployed all over the world, to go right up to one gigabit per second speeds without having to roll out new cable infrastructure. You might think that is common sense but, of course, it was a penetrating glimpse of the obvious that was denied to the Labor Party—the most uncommercial deal.

Senator Conroy at one point said, 'Who would buy Telstra's copper?' Well, of course, we have not bought it; we have negotiated to acquire it for no extra cost. He said, 'Come on down! Alan Bond, Kerry Packer would be laughing all the way to the bank'—

Mr Clare: Speaker, I rise on a point of order, on relevance. The minister is only being about 39 per cent relevant and he needs to be 100 per cent relevant here—

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat! There is no point of order.

Mr TURNBULL: The shadow minister, like his leader, gets these zingers. They come in here with a zinger. It is like a bit of chewing tobacco. They roll it up against the top of their mouths, they roll it around their cheeks, their pupils dilate, there is a straining expression reminiscent to anyone who has had experience with young children and then—boom!—out it comes! A literary Exocet aimed at the heart of your victim! How can I take the pressure from the shadow minister? He is almost as deadly as his master!