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
Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 8863


Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (17:43): In relation to document No. 10, NBN Co. Ltd., I read with great interest an article in yesterday's Australian, which I of course will not hold up because that is unparliamentary, but I will refer to that document. It is by Kevin Morgan, who was the ACTU member of former ALP leader Kim Beazley's advisory committee on telecommunications. It is headed: 'NBN's commercial viability is a joke'. This article is on page 12, and I think it is imperative that all those opposite at least read it so that they can know what a complete and utter farce the NBN is. In the article, Mr Morgan quite rightly indicates:

This financial year NBN Co will receive $4.7 billion, with a further $6.1bn billion to be injected in 2013-14.

He goes on to say:

But the pretence the NBN is commercial is dissolving and the McKinsey assumptions that led the ABS to grant the NBN its off-budget standing are no longer tenable. Much has changed.

He went on to say:

These failures haven't stopped NBN Co from paying 10 executives $640,000 in bonuses for the past 12 months. Hardly the mark of a commercial organisation. And the delivery of the few connections that have been established has scarcely occurred in a commercial manner. Technicians have been paid $500 for a half day's work to install an NBN box in a home, and when no work has been scheduled they have been paid $700 a day "idle time".

He went on to say:

Most tellingly, the revised corporate plan released in August confirms the original plan was way off the mark. The latter underestimated the size of the fibre network by 14 per cent about 25.000km.

Fourteen per cent—25,000 kilometres! And he finishes up—and this really has to be read, this article:

Like everything else about the NBN, its prices are driven by political, not commercial, imperatives.

I will repeat that:

Like everything else about the NBN, its prices are driven by political, not commercial, imperatives.

Indeed, this report just highlights again the Gillard Labor government's failure to manage public finances, to get things done and to do things well. On managing public finances, in 2007 Labor claimed that the NBN would require $4.7 billion from taxpayers. That was it! No more—no more than the $4.7 billion. Now, after almost four years, we already have $2.8 billion spent in taxpayers' funds and $923 million in losses. This financial year, as I said before, NBN Co. will receive about $4.7 billion and another $6.1 billion in the next year. No-one has any idea what the ultimate cost of this NBN will be! But, of course, it is off budget. As this Mr Morgan said, 'What a disgrace!' and:

… the pretence the NBN is commercial is dissolving and the McKinsey assumptions that led the ABS to grant the NBN its off-budget standing are no longer tenable.

I just want to turn to getting things done. Labor originally claimed in 2007 that the NBN would be completed by 2013. Hello! We are very close to that now. They are now saying that it will be 2021 but, of course, every deadline has been missed. Two years ago Labor promised that by June 2013 1.3 million households would have NBN fibre and that NBN Co. would have 560,000 paying customers. NBN Co. only has 24,000 households connected to fibre and just 6,400 paying customers, and NBN Co. has now downgraded its estimates for next June to only 54,000 premises connected to fibre, a far cry from 1.3 million.

In relation to doing things well, the Labor Party has clearly taken a monopoly approach to broadband, and while broadband prices have fallen by 69 per cent since 2005 NBN Co. now wants to triple its charges to consumers by 2020 as a very warm welcome to Mr Conroy's monopoly.

I do just want to talk quickly about the local effects in my patron seats of Ballarat, Bendigo, Corangamite and Corio. In Corangamite, the Liberal candidate, Sarah Henderson, has pointed out that the southern part of Geelong missed out on the NBN in the first rollout, and Goulburn Plains Shire Council reports on being bullied by NBN Co. (Time expired)