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Thursday, 19 March 2015
Page: 1973

Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital Territory) (15:34): I present the second interim report of the Select Committee on the National Broadband Network.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Senator LUNDY: I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

First, I acknowledge the efforts of the staff of the select committee's secretariat. The hard work they do and their dedication as this committee conducts its work across the country are genuine testament to their professionalism. I also thank my Senate colleagues on the committee for their cooperation and contributions. The Select Committee on the National Broadband Network no doubt will continue its work but I think the necessity for an interim report encapsulates the work that the government has sought to do over the last little while. This report primarily lends itself to reflecting on a plethora of reports and reviews that the Abbott government has undertaken with respect to the National Broadband Network.

I will make three points and then reflect very briefly on the recommendations. Eighteen months into this government's term the NBN Co is still too uncertain to divulge how much the multi-technology mix, or MTM, will cost or how long it will take to build. The committee noted that the headline financial and deployment numbers that have been divulged to date by NBN Co and the government are outdated and indeed unreliable. The committee also found that NBN Co's strategic review was unreliable in the case of all examined scenarios. We know it was completed in just five weeks, with no external independent oversight, and the committee found that it contained financial manipulations and other irregularities. Over the past 12 months these concerns have largely been borne out, with key NBN Co management distancing themselves from the report

The report also found that the cost-benefit analysis conducted by the government was deeply flawed and is not credible.

I know my colleague Senator Conroy will expand on these points, so let me conclude by making a couple of my own. I believe a network that relies in any way on Telstra's copper network is not and can never be a national broadband network. I spent years—many years ago now—in this place examining the state of Telstra's copper network. This work contributed to informing not only our policy to build a national broadband network based on fibre to the premises but an understanding that an overbuild was necessary—because Telstra's copper will not stand the test of time. It has already been failing for years.

To allow part of that existing copper network to form part of a multitechnology mix is absolute folly. It ensures that, under this government, what they continue to call the National Broadband Network will never be any such thing. In this report we have documented in a very detailed way the great travesties and manipulations concerning the business and conduct of the National Broadband Network. But the fundamental issue is that a network that is no longer a fibre-to-the-premises network but has gone back to the old multitechnology-mix approach of the former Howard government will never deliver the universal high-bandwidth network to Australia—nor the commensurate economic and social benefits—that would have put us ahead of the pack and allowed Australia to be the most substantial test-bed network for high-bandwidth connectivity among the developed nations of the world. That is a great shame. I commend the report to the Senate.