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Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Page: 2066

Broadband


Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (14:37): My question is to the Prime Minister. Nola is a 77-year-old who lives in my electorate and recently connected to the Prime Minister's copper NBN. NBN has run a copper cable across her yard, through the bushes and under her bedroom window. Nola was told to be careful when mowing to avoid cutting the cable. When the Prime Minister has a premium-speed NBN connection, why should people like Nola have to suffer with his inept copper NBN?


Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities) (14:38): I thank the member for her question, but once again she's drawing a contrast with the HFC, which is, as we've consistently said, a first-rate form of broadband. Labor seems to be complaining that the HFC is able to deliver a speed of 100 megabits per second—as it is, I'm pleased to say, for the Prime Minister, and for many thousands of other customers. There are 411,000 HFC customers, all of them able to access and many of them choosing to access 100 megabits per second.

It does raise the question: what is Labor's plan for the NBN? What is Labor's plan for the NBN? We really have no idea. In the 2016 election campaign we know that, despite their heated rhetoric now, they stated that they intended to continue with the HFC rollout. They also claimed that they were going to deliver an additional—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

Mr Burke: My point of order is on direct relevance. The example that's been given is one of a copper cable. It is not an HFC connection. The minister's entire answer has been about different technology to what the question is about.

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my right will cease interjecting. I'm going to call the minister. But I will consider the first part of his answer—

Ms Husar interjecting

The SPEAKER: I am not going to be interrupted when I am making a ruling. The member for Lindsay will leave under 94(a).

The member for Lindsay then left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: I am calling the minister, but his preamble has come to an end.

Mr FLETCHER: I make the point to the House that policy in this area needs to determine the appropriate mix of HFC, fibre to the premises, fibre to the node and fibre to the kerb. That is what the Turnbull government has been focused on so that we can roll this out for $30 billion less and more quickly—getting the whole network delivered by 2020. What we also know about a number of instances that have been raised by Labor in the past is that, on investigation, the facts have turned out not to have been as claimed. But, of course, we will go back and have a look at this claim and we will respond. But I do make the point that we are delivering a network more quickly than Labor could have delivered it and for $30 billion less, with some 7.4 million premises now in ready-for-service areas. When Labor left government barely 50,000 premises were connected to the fixed network. We now have 7.4 million able to connect.

We have no idea what Labor's policy will be at the next election. The question the Australian people are entitled to ask is: what is Labor going to do? At the last election they claimed that they were going to roll out two million more fibre premises and cost not one dollar more. That is magic pudding economics. That is a completely implausible and utterly incredible claim. There is no doubt that the member for Blaxland is deeply relieved not to be the shadow minister anymore so he doesn't have to defend that particular ridiculous policy.

The member for Moreton left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton has left the chamber under standing order 94(a). He had been warned a number of times, and when he saw me he walked. I am just making sure that it is right for the record. I call the member for Tangney.