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Monday, 9 November 2015
Page: 7948

Broadband


Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:37): My question is to the Minister for Communications, Senator Fifield. Can the minister update the Senate on the continued progress of the NBN rollout and the timesaving benefits of the coalition's multi-technology mix?


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Government) (14:37): Thank you, Senator Reynolds, for your important question. I am very pleased to be able to advise the chamber that the rollout of the NBN is powering ahead under the coalition. In just two years we have seen a dramatic turnaround at nbn. Today we have 1.4 million premises now able to order a service and over 600,000 paying customers. With the multi-technology rollout mix that Senator Reynolds referred to, nbn has been able to release a detailed three-year rollout plan that will see more than nine million homes and businesses across Australia—

Senator Conroy interjecting

Senator Cormann interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Cormann and Senator Conroy, if you want to have this discussion go outside. Senator Fifield, you have the call.

Senator FIFIELD: Thank you, Mr President. If I had a word of advice for Senator Conroy it would be: just let go! As I was saying, the three-year construction plan released by nbn will see more than nine million homes and businesses across Australia within the NBN footprint by 2018. As you would probably know, Mr President, this is in stark contrast to what was achieved by those opposite. In 2013, nbn had only managed to connect 50,000 users since the start of construction in 2011 and rollout targets were being continually set, missed, reset, revised downwards and then missed again. That was the pattern.

The need and the benefits of the multi-technology mix approach are clear. By using existing infrastructure, nbn can be in a position to complete the network by 2020 and at much, much less cost.




Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:40): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Will the minister advise the Senate how nbn co's financial results for the first quarter of the 2016 financial year, which were released today, compare to the performance of the company under the previous government?


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Government) (14:40): It is a big contrast. Nbn did release their results for the first quarter of 2016 today which show that the company is making good progress in construction, network connections and revenue. Compared to a year ago, the number of homes ready for service had almost doubled to more than 1.38 million. That trend is in line with the company's corporate plan target and it is aiming to double the rollout footprint each year over the next three years. The number of active users on the NBN network has also increased by nearly 130 per cent compared to the same quarter last year to reach over 600,000 premises to date. And revenue is also positive for NBN. The earnings from the previous quarter reached $71 million, an increase of more than 150 per cent compared to the same quarter last year. This does reflect the steady progress that the company is making, and I have got to say it is good news that, for the first time in NBN's history, targets are being met.


Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:41): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister also inform the Senate if there are any threats to delivering the NBN to Australians sooner and at less cost to taxpayers?

Senator Conroy interjecting


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Government) (14:41): Well, there is a threat from someone opposite who just will not let go. But we are going to ignore that threat and just get on with the job of building the NBN. Today's results are in stark contrast to those that the other side presided over. As Professor Henry Ergas observed today in his very good column in The Australian newspaper, NBN's revenues at the time the coalition took office were 91 per cent short of the 2013 corporate plan objective. The company, under those opposite, did not even know how much it cost to connect a premises. No wonder the Australian Financial Review referred to Senator Conroy's approach as an expensive joke. (Time expired)