House debates

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Questions without Notice


2:48 pm

Photo of Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull (Wentworth, Liberal Party, Minister for Communications) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for his question. It was only a little while ago that we were discussing broadband in rural Australia with young Wendy Tshuma and her classmates from the Son Centre Christian School in Swan Hill who the honourable member introduced me to and asked me about broadband. The cost-benefit analysis considered the cost of providing very superfast broadband to rural and regional Australia. It showed that the net economic benefits of an unsubsidised rollout, which would just be done on commercial grounds without any government subsidy, was $24 billion, but that the government's plan, the mixed technology model, was $18 billion. Of course, the previous Labor government's plan would have had a net benefit of less than $2 billion, which is why our approach is nine times as beneficial to the Australian economy as Labor's. But the difference between the $24 billion net benefit on an unsubsidised model and $18 billion for this government's model is $6 billion. Most of that is taken up with the subsidy that goes to rural and regional telecommunications, essentially the satellite and the fixed wireless networks.

The study demonstrated that the fixed wireless and satellite services, which will cover the last seven per cent, will cost nearly $5 billion, with benefits of about 10 per cent of that. So that is a substantial net cost to the community. But it is absolutely vital that we make that investment. If investment in infrastructure in rural and regional Australia was only dictated by economic cost then the bitumen would stop at the end of the cities, the post office would not deliver. So it is vital that we provide those services. Young Wendy Tshuma has as good an internet connection in Swan Hill as her cousins in Melbourne or Sydney.

Mr Champion interjecting


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