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Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Page: 7642


Senator EDWARDS (South Australia) (15:18): I also rise to speak on the motion to take note of answers given by Senator Fifield to questions from Senator McAllister earlier. Before I move on to my comments I will suggest that Senator McAllister moves out of the densely populated area in which she lives and comes and has a look around the state in which I live and at places like Buckleboo, Cummins and Roxby Downs, where connecting fibre to the premises—under the plan that Mr Clare announced today—is simply fantasy. Fantasy is exactly what you have to consider in terms of how this opposition would seek to govern if it were ever entrusted to do so.

Does the shadow communications minister talk to the shadow Treasurer about how they are going to cost this fantasy? The published nbn co 2016 corporate plan forecast that an all-fibre-line build would require a peak funding of somewhere between $74 billion and $84 billion. Quite honestly, given the earlier musings of previous minister for communications Senator Conroy of $40 billion, that number is somewhat fanciful. Extra civil works required for fibre to the home would cost tens of billions of dollars more and take vastly more time to finish—Australians would wait some 10 years longer if these operations of the NBN were taken up.

Senator McAllister mentioned countries like Japan, South Korea and Singapore. I must remind Senator McAllister that those countries are highly populated with areas no bigger than the Wimmera in Victoria—the size of Gippsland in this country. We are an island nation sparsely populated all around the coastal regions, which is why it is so exciting that we have just seen the launch on 1 October of the new NBN satellite, Sky Muster.

Sky Muster is the first of two satellites built to deliver fast broadband to outback Queensland, outback New South Wales and outback Western Australia—all the remote areas in Australia. It was launched from French Guiana on the 1st and will be in place tomorrow. From there on out—they call it 'parking the satellite'—it will be tested from the 15th until March next year. They will ensure that all the retail services—all the services which are going to be so important to education and to ensuring that we have medical services delivered to those regional areas—will be in place. The entire Australian mainland, Tasmania and five other islands—Christmas, Cocos, Lord Howe, Norfolk and Macquarie—will be covered by this satellite.

This is what this coalition government does: it gets things done. It does not talk about it. It does not put fanciful operational plans in place that are unfunded and unlikely to ever be part of what this country will see. It is a bit like now when you see the shadow minister for defence—the minister for communications in a previous government—talking about submarines and shipbuilding and all that. It is gay abandon, no corporate responsibility and corporate welfare everywhere. It is just the unfunded recklessness that we have come to understand about the way in which the Labor Party operate. They are, frighteningly, the alternative government in this country. The NBN's uniform national approach is a good system. It will roll out on time. It will deliver to 10 million customers in gig time, and I am surprised it was question No. 1 today. (Time expired)