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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 3228

Senator BILYK (2:46 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy. Given that the government has prioritised the rollout of the National Broadband Network in Tasmania, can the minister inform the Senate on the progress of the NBN rollout in Tasmania?

Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) —I thank Senator Bilyk for her ongoing interest in this matter. On 8 April 2009 the government announced that Tasmania would be the launch state for the National Broadband Network. Two hundred thousand Tasmanian households, businesses, schools and hospitals will be connected with fibre to the premises delivering speeds of 100 megabits per second and the rest with next generation wireless and satellite technology. The rollout in Tasmania is now well underway. Construction of the backhaul links to the stage 1 communities—Smithton, Scotsdale and Midway Point—began in September last year and has now been completed. On 1 June I opened the nerve centre of the Tasmanian network—the network operations centre that will manage network traffic, take service orders and coordinate service installations and network maintenance. I am pleased to advise the Senate that we are on track for the first live services to be delivered in these areas in just a few short weeks.

iiNet, Internode and iPrimus have already signed up with NBN Tasmania and have released introductory prices for the stage 1 communities in Tasmania. They have already signed up their first customers. There has been a huge amount of community enthusiasm for the NBN in Tasmania. So far in the three stage 1 communities the sign-up rate for an optic fibre connection is almost 50 per cent. This includes homes, businesses, schools, libraries and hospitals, and the NBN will transform Tasmania. (Time expired)

Honourable senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT —Order! The time to debate this is at the end of question time. Senator Bilyk.

Senator BILYK —Mr President, I ask my first supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate how much customers will pay to use services on the NBN in the stage 1 areas of the Tasmanian rollout? What impact is the arrival of the NBN having on competition?

Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) —As the Adelaide Advertiser said today, we are already seeing an emerging price war between the three providers that have signed up with NBN Tasmania. iPrimus was the first to release its pricing a few weeks ago. iiNet responded with a 25 meg per second data service costing $49.95, with an introductory offer of free set-up, some in-home wiring and a free BoB box. Internode has just thrown down the gauntlet with a 25 meg service offered at $29.95 per month and an entry level of a 100 megabit service for $59.95 per month. This is better than anything currently available today in these communities.

Honourable senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT —Order! If you want to debate this, the time to do so is at the end of question time.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Stephen, how much is NBN getting?

The PRESIDENT —Senator Macdonald, constant interjection is completely disorderly. If you wish to debate it, the time to do so is at the end of question time. Senator Conroy.

Senator CONROY —That is what the NBN is all about—creating a competitive retail market.

Senator BILYK —Mr President, I ask a second supplementary question. Can the minister also advise the Senate whether the rollout of the NBN in Tasmania has the support of community and business groups?

Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) —In Tasmania there is strong support for the NBN. It is supported by the Tasmanian Premier and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hodgman, who has said:

I have always strongly supported the NBN as providing great opportunities for Tasmania …

Tasmanian business is also on board, including the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, TasICT, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Tasmanian Small Business Council. To shut down the NBN in Tasmania, as Mr Abbott and those opposite propose, will wreak havoc on Tasmania’s long-term economic development. It will risk Tasmania’s and Australia’s economic future. (Time expired)