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Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Page: 7622

Broadband


Senator McALLISTER (New South Wales) (14:00): My question is to the Minister for Communications, Senator Fifield. Can the minister confirm that the latest NBN corporate plan makes clear that under the previous Minister for Communications the cost of the NBN had blown out from $29.5 billion to as much as $56 billion—$26.5 billion more than he promised?


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) (14:00): I think Senator McAllister may be getting confused: $29.5 billion is what will be the Commonwealth's equity injection into the NBN, and it remains the case.


Senator McALLISTER (New South Wales) (14:00): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister confirm that under the previous Minister for Communications the time frame for the NBN rollout has more than doubled, with all homes and businesses now not receiving the NBN until 2020 at the earliest?


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) (14:01): The good news is that currently 1.3 million Australian premises can have access to the NBN. Currently, there are about 600,000 subscribers. By the middle of 2018 we will be getting close to nine million people who will potentially have access. The NBN is on target to be fully rolled out by 2020.

Senator Moore: Mr President, I rise on a point of order on direct relevance. The minister got to it before he sat down, but the question was specifically on time frames. It was not about numbers, but about the time frame and whether it has been increased from the previous process.

The PRESIDENT: The minister was addressing the question.

Senator FIFIELD: As I was going to say, under the coalition's plan the NBN will be rolled out nationwide six to eight years earlier than would have been the case under those opposite. It is very interesting to note today that Mr Jason Clare has declared that it remains the Labor Party's intention to introduce a full fibre network. What that means is billions of dollars of additional costs and massive delays to the full completion of the NBN.





Senator McALLISTER (New South Wales) (14:02): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Isn't it true that Mr Turnbull's NBN is double the price but delivers half the service? Isn't this disaster just typical of his performance—overpromising and underdelivering—and the reason so many of his colleagues did not want him as the leader?


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) (14:03): Senator McAllister's characterisation of the NBN under this government is wrong in every respect. Under Senator Conroy's plan—the one which we all remember was worked out on the back of a coaster or an envelope on a VIP flight—the NBN was not going to be completed until 2028 and Labor's cost was going to be $20 billion to $30 billion more. Under the coalition the NBN will be rolled out, completed, six to eight years sooner than would be the case under those opposite. We are making sure that Australians will get the services that they want and that Australians will get the services that they need sooner and at a better price than those opposite. We wait to hear from Jason Clare and Mr Shorten on how they are going to fund a full fibre network.