Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Questions without Notice
National Broadband Network
I am delighted that the honourable member has been following the reporting of the NBN Co. I do not claim any prescience here, but as it happens I was looking at the NBN Co's weekly rollout report as she was getting ready to ask her question. I have it here. As of 29 September—we will get some new numbers in a day or so—there are now 1.37 million premises actually activated and accessing the network—paying customers. There are 3.2 million premises that have the ability to access the network.
The NBN Co is connecting—that is to say, activating, signing up—new customers at the rate of around 90,000 every four weeks. In six years, Labor connected 50,000. The company is doing as much in two weeks as Labor did in its whole term in government. It is rolling out. Half of Australia's premises will have access by 30 June next year. The company forecasts that it will be three quarters by 30 June 2018, and the project will be completed in 2019-20.
This is one of the great corporate turnarounds in Australia's history. This was a complete catastrophe, a failed project. Construction had stopped in many parts of Australia and in other parts it had barely started. We put in a new board, new management, new business plan, and they are getting on with the job. Unlike the Labor Party, we do not turn technology into ideology. They make the same mistake with telecommunications as they do with climate policy and renewables policy. What is the object? Getting people connected to the internet with very fast broadband. That is the goal. How do you do it? You do it in the most cost-effective way using the resources you have, where they are, and you design a technique that suits circumstances. That is what we are doing. Of course, we could have stuck with Labor's ideological plan, which would have cost another $30 billion and taken six to eight years longer. The turnaround of the NBN is one of the great achievements of the coalition government.