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Thursday, 14 November 2013
Page: 335

National Broadband Network

Ms SCOTT (Lindsay) (14:40): My question is to the Minister for Communications. Can the minister update my community in Lindsay, and especially those with inadequate broadband, on the progress of the NBN? Why is it important to roll it out sooner and more affordably in Western Sydney? How would the government ensure NBN accountability to the parliament and the people?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthMinister for Communications) (14:40): I thank the honourable member for her question and congratulate her on her election and on her first speech yesterday. As the honourable member will know, the people of Western Sydney have been receiving Labor promises, unfulfilled, of better infrastructure for years. There are at least half a dozen rail projects from the state government, and from the Labor federal government they were told before the election that there were 85,000 homes in Western Sydney where construction had commenced. But, in fact, building contracts had only been signed for half of them. Another fact that was denied the people of Western Sydney at the election was that there were, in fact, only 303 homes in brownfield areas actually connected to the NBN. Only 303 connected in all of Western Sydney, a region of 1.9 million people, and that is after six years in government and more than $5 billion in taxpayers' funding.

Of course, the honourable members knows, and we all know, that there are many areas in Australia that have absolutely inadequate broadband, often no broadband at all. That is why my department is conducting a comprehensive survey to ascertain for the first time where the broadband needs are greatest. I was in the honourable member for Chifley's electorate last week in Derwent Parade in Blacktown to see some broadband being rolled out by the NBN—fibre to the premises. Was that an area of inadequate broadband? No, Madam Speaker, it was not. The people of Derwent Parade could buy not one but two competing 100-megabit-per-second broadband services from each of Telstra and Optus. So, while there were homes in Western Sydney that had no broadband, the NBN was being rolled out in the honourable member for Chifley's electorate in streets where they had some of the best broadband in Australia.

The honourable member asked me about accountability. Unlike the Labor Party, whose statistics were not in English when talking about the NBN but were in Conrovian, a bizarre Orwellian language that was impossible to understand and was calculated to mislead, we are publishing every week the up-to-date rollout figures in plain English. But it gets worse for the Labor Party. The honourable member for Blaxland, the shadow minister, and I agreed that there would be a joint committee on the NBN as there was in the last parliament. We agreed that that should be the committee that dealt with it. But Senator Lundy, the disappointed Senator Lundy, rolled him and there is now a Senate committee looking into the NBN, on which neither of the Leader of the Opposition's broadband spokesmen are able to sit. What a failure of leadership on behalf of— (Time expired)