Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 294

NBN Co Limited

(Question No. 673)


Ms MacTiernan asked the Minister for Communications, in writing, on 2 December 2014:

In respect of NBN Co Limited's (NBN Co's) media release dated 1 December 2014 regarding the new national broadband construction plan, (a) on what basis (i) were the suburbs prioritised and selected, and (ii) did NBN Co determine which area will receive what broadband technology, (b) given that the suburbs of Ashfield, Bassendean, Beechboro, Eden Hill, Kiara, Lockridge and Morley were previously on the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll out plan for 2013-14, that the related upgrade of the Bassendean Exchange was completed in 2014 and that these suburbs have been assessed as having the lowest ranking of Internet speeds and reliability, why were they not included in the latest NBN roll-out plan, and (c) will he release the documents that relate to the assessment of the priority for broadband rollout in those suburbs by NBN Co; if not, why not."


Mr Turnbull: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

On what basis were suburbs prioritised and selected? A number of factors are taken into account in determining the sequence of the NBN rollout. These include the existing infrastructure in a particular area, the capacity of NBN Co's construction partners, proximity of potential areas to existing work fronts, as well as other opportunities to minimise costs and to achieve early and high revenue (e.g. business areas). Importantly, the Government also asked NBN Co to prioritise underserved areas where commercially and operationally feasible.

On what basis did NBN Co determine which area will receive what broadband technology? On 13 November 2014, NBN Co released the 'NBN Multi-Technology Deployment Principles' which are available on www.nbnco.com.au. NBN Co is using these principles to determine which technology is best suited to each area.

Given that the suburbs of Ashfield, Bassendean, Beechboro, Eden Hill, Kiara, Lockridge and Morley were previously on the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll out plan for 2013-14, that the related upgrade of the Bassendean Exchange was completed in 2014 and that these suburbs have been assessed as having the lowest ranking of Internet speeds and reliability, why were they not included in the latest roll-out plan?

As you may be aware, by September 2013 the NBN rollout was 462,000 premises (or 55 per cent) behind the revised schedule that the former government announced in August 2012. At the same time peak funding that NBN Co Limited (NBN Co) needed to complete the network was estimated to have blown out by $28.5 billion (or 65 per cent), beyond the sum budgeted by the former government in August 2012.

The post-election Strategic Review estimated the proposed fibre-to-the-premises NBN would not be completed until 2024 at the earliest - meaning that hundreds of thousands of Australians faced a wait of a decade before they could obtain access to telehealth, the opportunities of the digital economy or any online services whatsoever.

In addition, the Strategic Review estimated that completing the fibre-to-the-premises network would increase the cost of broadband for an average household by $43 per month.

In fact, under Labor, there were only 34 premises in established neighbourhoods in Perth who were actually connected to the NBN's fibre network. In Western Australia in total, there were 91 premises. This is despite $6.5 billion being committed to the project.

No wonder people lost patience with Labor - it was not a National Broadband Network, it was, at best, an eastern states Broadband Network.

The areas specified in the question were listed on NBN Co's 'One Year Construction Rollout Plan' released in April 2013. However, construction activity did not commence as continuing issues with the Western Australian Delivery Partner hampered the rollout.

This example illustrates some of the problems with the NBN under the previous approach. The Government has committed to much greater transparency, and has undertaken a series of reviews and reforms to enable NBN Co to achieve its rollout targets.

While these areas are not currently in the rollout plan, the Government is committed to ensuring that the NBN reaches every Australian family by 2020. NBN Co has committed to providing quarterly updates of planned activity across Australia. Those interested should monitor NBN Co's website.

Will he release the documents that relate to the assessment of the priority for broadband rollout in those suburbs by NBN Co?

The Government has publically made available the Broadband Availability and Quality report, found at www.communications.gov.au. The report found that there are more than 1.6 million premises across Australia with very poor or no fixed broadband access at all.

The Government has asked NBN Co to determine which technologies should be utilised on an area-by-area basis so as to minimise peak funding, optimise economic returns and enhance the Company's viability. NBN Co also released the 'NBN Multi-Technology Deployment Principles' on its website at www.nbnco.com.au. The principles are used to determine which technologies are to be used in the rollout.