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Wednesday, 25 November 2015
Page: 8968

Senator CONROY (VictoriaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (15:27): Today is quite an extraordinary day. Today we have seen a document from the National Broadband Network Company that demonstrates once again the folly and the lies of those who have been peddling the NBN MTM. What we have seen today is a document showing that this government is so inept, so incompetent and so ideologically driven that they are prepared to buy a network from Optus that, today in question time, the minister said we are going to use. But, after Prime Minister Turnbull made nbn co buy it, what they have found is that it is 'not fit for use'.

There is a reason we were going to close it down—that is, because it was not fit for use. We knew it, Optus knew it, and the whole country knew it, but not Prime Minister Turnbull. He decided he knew better than all of the engineers and all of the experts in the country, and Optus today are laughing all the way to the bank.

Let us just check the scorecard, because we are regularly being told by this government what a great job it is doing. Let's check the score card of who is using the NBN today. Let me be the first to publicly out Senator Cory Bernardi, who has actually talked about his own NBN. He has the NBN, but he is not alone. Today, there are 610,000 users of the National Broadband Network on Labor's fibre network.

Let's compare that with after over two years in government: how many people are using Prime Minister Turnbull's network? Based on the last published figures, it is a grand total of 375. Six hundred and ten thousand are using Labor's network compared to, after two years and a billion dollars of wasted expenditure, 375 using the government's—Mr Turnbull's—network. So we have seen that this second-rate National Broadband Network is not meeting their election promises. They said it was going to cost $29 billion before this blow-out was exposed, and now it is going to cost $56 billion. Mr Turnbull said it would be rolled out in three years. Now it is going to be seven years before this cost and time blow-out are factored in. And Prime Minister Turnbull has no-one to blame but himself. Virtually every forecast that he has made on the NBN has been hopelessly wrong.

I want to go to the board of nbn co. Just recently, the board was asked to explain the difference for the board's approved strategic review, where the board decided that they had the information they needed to change the direction of the National Broadband Network. Based on the strategic review, this board made a decision to spend $56 billion—and more to come because of this cost blow-out and this time delay. When asked about this cost difference, Mr Morrow said, 'The strategic review did not have all the in-fill costs available to it.' That is a $15 billion blow-out, where the board of nbn co, the management of nbn co—and to be fair to Mr Morrow, he was not there—made a recommendation to shift to a $56 billion model without knowing the costs of the in-fill, the HFC or the FTTN.

Now we are getting all of this debacle coming home to roost. How could a board make a decision to switch to a $56 billion network without knowing the costs at the time? How could the CEO today say that the board members did not know the costs when the board made a decision to shift to a network that is now costing $56 billion? This board was one of political hacks! They were incompetent and they did not know what they were doing.

Question agreed to.