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Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Page: 1408


WYATT ROY (Longman) (14:41): My question is to the Minister for Communications. I refer the minister to an election advertisement displayed on a billboard in Stanley Street in Brisbane, which claimed that Labor's national broadband network was free. Can the minister explain the measures the government is taking to make the NBN more transparent and inform Australians of the true cost of the so-called free NBN?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthMinister for Communications) (14:41): I thank the honourable member for his question. I say to the honourable member that the principal measure that we are undertaking to correct the misleading statements made by the previous government, and continued by the Labor Party about the NBN, is to set out the facts and expose the spin that they have been perpetuating about this project.

It did not just finish at the time the election; it did not just finish with the end of the Conrovian era. We saw it yesterday at the doors. The member for Blaxland, the shadow minister, was complaining about the coalition's approach to the NBN. An intrepid reporter said, 'But didn't you mess a few things up? Didn't you leave a few problems?' He brushed it off and he brushed it off, but finally—under incredible pressure—he said, 'Yes, there have been problems with the construction. They do need to be fixed, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.'

Really, he should not throw the metaphor out with the cliche, either! This is absolute parrot territory. Really, you can just imagine this process of denial! You can imagine how the member the Adelaide got on with the member the Grayndler, the former minister, when she complained. She said, 'There's no NBN happening in my electorate. There's nothing here.' What did the member the Grayndler say? He said, 'Don't worry, it's not dead. It's just resting. The NBN is just resting.' He said, 'It's just tired! It's had a big squawk lately and it's having a rest!'

The honourable member asked me what we are doing, apart from exposing their misleading statements. This is what we are doing: we are spelling out every week the rollout statistics of the NBN. We are revealing a statistic that Labor concealed. Labor concealed the fact that one third of all of the brownfield premises they claimed to have passed with fibre could not be connected. There was a rather nice term for it. They were called 'service class zero', because there was zero chance of getting a service.

That statistic was concealed by the previous government to create the impression that more premises were being passed. They also had this bizarre Orwellian metric, 'premises where construction has commenced or been completed', and 'construction' in the small print was defined as beginning when the plans were first drawn up. This is all stopping. We will shortly be releasing a strategic review which will spell out the objective facts and the truth about this project for the first time in its history.