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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 564


Mr COLEMAN (Banks) (15:10): My question is to the Minister for Communications. What is the government doing to deliver fast broadband to Australian businesses and families who cannot access broadband after six years of Labor?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthMinister for Communications) (15:11): I thank the honourable member and well recall the broadband forum we had in his electorate some months ago. The previous government are notorious for, when embarking on the National Broadband Network project, not undertaking a cost-benefit analysis. What is perhaps not so well known is that they did not bother to even ask the most fundamental question, which is: where is broadband good, where is it okay and where is there no broadband at all? Logically, a government that is going to spend taxpayers' money to address broadband deficiencies would want to target the people who had the worst broadband. Our predecessors in government, the Labor Party, had no idea what the answer to that question was. They did not care, because the only thing that informed their rollout was politics. That is why you saw in marginal seats in Western Sydney the fibre network being rolled out on streets where there were not one but two hybrid fibre-coax networks, where the residents already had a pick of 200-megabit-per-second services.

What have we done? Last Thursday, we released the complete Broadband availability and quality report and the MyBroadband website, which drills down to 78,000 local areas across Australia and shows what types of broadband are available—wireless, HFC, fibre to the premises, ADSL et cetera—and what the quality of them is. It gives an estimate as to what types of speeds people will get. It shows graphically where broadband is good—and in some places it is very, very good—and it shows where it is really bad. There are 1.6 million premises in Australia where there is either no broadband at all or broadband with medium peak speeds of 4.8 megabits or less per second, which today is unacceptably slow.

It would have been a lot easier if the previous government had done this from the start and, as I have said to the House many times, we had not been left with, rather than a blank sheet of paper, a real mess to clean up with the NBN. But what we are now going to do is prioritise the worst served areas so that people with poor broadband get it upgraded sooner. The recent strategic review of the NBN estimated that underserved areas can be upgraded on average two years sooner if they are prioritised in the rollout as we are proposing. We are committed to all Australians having access to very fast broadband sooner, cheaper and more affordably, and only the coalition can be counted on to get that job done.

Mr Abbott: After that excellent answer, I ask that further questions be put on the Notice Paper.