Monday, 18 June 2007
Questions without Notice
Let me repeat that for the benefit of the member for Ballarat: very fast and affordable broadband for an additional three million premises this year. Secondly, there will be a deployment of 1,360 WiMAX wireless base stations across the country, bringing very fast and affordable broadband to 99 per cent of the population by June 2009. Contrary to the sneering remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, WiMAX wireless is a 4G technology designed specifically for broadband, delivering speeds of 12 megabits per second. WiMAX is a scaleable technology, meaning that its speeds will increase into the future as the base stations are upgraded. Also for the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition, I point out that ADSL2+ can deliver speeds of up to 20 megabits per second over copper wire, and the intention is for the additional 426 very fast ADSL2+ broadband exchanges to be switched on this year, with the process beginning immediately.
All of this will be achieved without touching the $2 billion regional communications fund, which the opposition is going to steal in order to fund a fibre optic network that ought be provided by commercial operators who are going to earn a great deal of money out of the provision of that network. In relation to that network, we are establishing a competitive bid process. The group that will make the decision and confer with industry and the government will include representatives from my department, the Secretary to the Treasury, the Secretary to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, the ACCC and private businesses representatives. There will be no cost to the taxpayer. We will provide this, or the market will provide it, at no cost to the taxpayer. The Leader of the Opposition will take $2 billion away from the bush and $2.7 billion out of the superannuation provisions for Australia’s soldiers and Federal Police in order to pay for something that ought to be paid for by the private sector. The man who knows nothing about productivity also knows nothing about competition in communications. Why on earth would anybody provide $4.7 billion to subsidise the creation of something that ought to be produced by the private sector, because the private sector will make a great deal of money out of the provision of that service?