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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1055

Broadband


Mr IRONS (Swan) (14:54): My question is to the Minister for Communications. I remind the minister that new construction first started in Victoria Park in my electorate in October 2011 when residents were informed they could expect services within 12 months. Will the minister provide an update on the progress of the NBN in Victoria Park and why it will be important to deliver the NBN sooner and more affordably for all Australians?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthMinister for Communications) (14:54): I thank the honourable member for his question and I can well understand the frustration and disappointment of his constituents. There was a $31-billion black hole advised to the Labor government at the end of 2010 and, regrettably, quite a few truths have vanished into it.

One of them was the true state of the broadband rollout by the NBN. In fact, as the honourable member said, in October 2011 the then government announced that construction had commenced in East Victoria Park and Burswood. Two years later there is no ready-for-service premises in those areas. Indeed, despite barrels of propaganda, reams of leaflets and flyers, and lots of claims, on election day in total there were 34 brownfield premises in Perth connected to the fibre network, and across the whole state of Western Australia there were 75 brownfield premises connected. NBN connections in Western Australia have been as rare as sightings of Brian Burke.

In the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia, right now, as of today, there are 1,395 premises connected to the NBN brownfields fibre network—this is in the built-up, established areas—of which more than half were in the Willunga trial site that had been built in 2011. So over the last two years practically nothing has happened.

The honourable member asked me how can we make this more affordable and cost-effective, and the answer is to use a mix of technologies. How many times have honourable members heard me talk about the virtues of different technologies—fibre to the node, VDSL and so forth. The frustrating thing, as we all know, is that we make these powerful cases as advocates and we never change the minds of those opposite. But, Madam Speaker, sometimes you do. I was so gratified to receive a warm letter from the member for Adelaide on 27 September congratulating me on my appointment as minister and concluding:

Adelaide needs and deserves access to fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) broadband infrastructure, and I have pledged to do all that I can to ensure that they get it. I ask that you please use your appointment as the responsible minister to do the same.

On this point I will accede to the member for Adelaide's wishes: we will deliver a more cost-effective network. I table the honourable member's letter.