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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 2867

Broadband


Senator CAROL BROWN (TasmaniaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:57): My question is to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy. Can the minister inform the Senate on recent progress on the rollout of the National Broadband Network?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:57): My thanks to Senator Carol Brown for her ongoing interest in the NBN. The Gillard government is committed to rolling out the NBN and providing all Australians with affordable and fast broadband regardless of where they live. Just last month I was in Armidale, New South Wales, switching on the NBN along with the Prime Minister, Mr Windsor, Miss Brittany Sisson and Miss Alex Hiscox—the senior and junior school captains of Presbyterian Ladies College.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: When we have silence we will proceed.

Senator CONROY: It was a significant event. If anyone is in any doubt about what having the NBN means for rural and regional communities, then they should go to Armidale themselves.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: If senators wish to debate the issue, the time is post question time—you know that.

Senator CONROY: I am also pleased to confirm that NBN Co. recently struck an agreement with Silcar to begin the first large-scale deployment of fibre-optic cable for the NBN across Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT. This announcement represents almost 40 per cent of national construction activity planned over the next two years with pricing in line with the NBN Co.'s corporate plan. Importantly, this contract means that more and more Australian households will begin to reap the benefits of being connected to the NBN. This government recognises that investing in the NBN is about future-proofing Australia's future economic prosperity, its international competitiveness and its social wellbeing. I am confident that this deal represents good value for taxpayers and that the NBN Co. will continue to deliver the NBN on budget. (Time expired)






Senator CAROL BROWN (TasmaniaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (15:00): I thank the minister for his answer. Can the minister provide further information to the Senate on the progress of the NBN in regional, rural and remote Australia?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (15:00): Again, I thank the senator for her question. I am happy to advise the chamber that on 1 June NBN Co. announced that it entered into a 10-year contract with Ericsson to design, build and operate a 4G fixed-wireless network worth up to $1.1 million. Construction of the fixed-wireless network will commence in December this year and is expected to be completed by 2015. It will deliver peak speeds of at least 12 megabits per second from the middle of next year, ensuring an end-user experience far in excess of what people in rural Australia have been forced to put up with, or would have been forced to put up with, with that dog of an Opel product that those opposite championed for so long.

NBN Co. also announced that it had signed agreements with Optus and IPSTAR worth around $300 million to deliver an interim satellite service to be made available to customers from 1 July, which offers speeds around six times faster. (Time expired)


Senator CAROL BROWN (TasmaniaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (15:02): My final supplementary question is: can the minister advise the Senate on the consequences of failing to invest in the NBN?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (15:02): We all know that the NBN is important for Australia's future. Yesterday I discussed the Digital Economy Strategy and the need to position Australia as a world-leading digital economy by 2020. We also want to be firmly ensconced in the top five OECD countries for broadband connections at home and at work.

Mr Abbott and those opposite want to wreck Australia's future. They want to destroy that vision. In Mr Abbott's own words, he appointed Mr Turnbull to 'demolish the NBN'. As the Gillard government focuses on building Australia's greatest infrastructure projects for current and future generations of Australians, the Leader of the Opposition and those opposite have pledged the Liberal and National parties to demolish the NBN. The disappointing thing is that the Nationals, the self-proclaimed guardians of country Australia, are joining in and opposing uniform wholesale prices. (Time expired)

Senator Chris Evans: Mr President, I ask further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.

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