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Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Page: 5335


Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (12:43): In the minute and a half we have until we move onto matters of public interest, I would like to state briefly for the record that I share the concerns of the coalition benches. We have heard today that this $50-plus billion rollout of the National Broadband Network which is being undertaken without any cost-benefit analysis, as Senator Humphries has just remarked, has only about 50 current customers, and that these people are obtaining services that are at a cost comparable to that of the facilities that were available previously. Importantly, the mooted benefits of this very fast National Broadband Network, come at a considerable cost which is out of the reach of so many people in many of the communities that are affected right now. A lot of discussion has taken place in that regard.

Ultimately, this comes down to: is this the best use of taxpayers' money? In fact, it is not even taxpayers' money. I regret to inform the Australian people that this is borrowed money. This is money that the government does not have. The government does not have it because it has squandered so much of the legacy and resources that were left to it when it came to office in 2007. So we are borrowing money to provide services that, in many instances, were already available, and in doing so we are creating a national telecommunications infrastructure.

Debate interrupted.