House debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Matters of Public Importance


3:58 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

An Albanese Labor government will fix the sadly botched NBN rollout that the Morrison government has given Australians. We all know that good-quality, fast internet is crucial in today's society. If we didn't know that prior to COVID, we certainly know it now. Working from home, studying from home and simply keeping in touch with family and friends relies on fast and reliable broadband.

Many families in my electorate of Corangamite are totally dissatisfied, frustrated and, quite honestly, angry at this government's woeful copper-to-the-node scheme. Some in my electorate don't even have NBN yet, despite the Morrison-Joyce government telling us that the rollout is complete. That's why Labor's recent announcement that we will connect 1.5 million households across the nation to fast fibre was enthusiastically applauded in my electorate. An investment of 2.4 billion to boost fibre access nationally makes absolute sense.

What doesn't make good sense is why this wasn't done by the coalition government. Instead, the coalition introduced an inferior system, relying to a great degree on copper wire to the home. By international standards, this was never going to cut the mustard. It was short-sighted, and it's limited our nation's productivity. Australia is now ranked 58th in the world for average broadband speeds. It's just embarrassing.

So I was recently thrilled to announce to my electorate that, under Labor, many areas now struggling with copper wire based NBN will have access to full-fibre high-speed internet in my electorate. That means that places like Bannockburn, Clifton Springs, Portarlington, St Leonards, Marshall, Moolap, Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale will all have access, under Labor, to fibre to the home. None of these areas were earmarked for upgrades under this half-baked proposal by the Morrison government to retrofit fibre to the home under its discredited NBN.

As a result, my office has been flooded with complaints about the coalition's NBN. A local project manager and software developer who works in Waurn Ponds, an urban area in my electorate, tells me NBN is his biggest concern in turning a profit. He says: 'It's so embarrassing. It's frustrating.' Another, David in Barwon Heads, tells me he's battling serious communication challenges with the NBN, at a time when his wife is pregnant and needs to keep in touch with medical specialists. In Torquay, the NBN can be so pathetic, a trickle of between five and eight megabits per second. That's not usable in this day and age for even the most basic of data communications.

How can this government hold its head up when talking about the woeful NBN that it's delivered to Australians? The truth is that the NBN has been a giant, expensive headache for so many in my electorate and across the nation since the coalition began rolling it out in 2013, and everyone knows it. It's riddled with problems. More than 27,000 Australians made complaints about NBN in 2020, including complaints about slow speeds and poor connectivity. The coalition's failed fibre-to-the-node infrastructure is now going to have to be rebuilt by a Labor government.

The irony is that under former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd we were going to deliver a fast fibre based NBN, but it was bagged by the coalition at the time. We had the future Prime Minister Abbott saying:

… do we really want to invest $50 billion worth of hard-earned taxpayers' money in what is essentially a video entertainment system?

Mr Turnbull in the same press conference said, laughably even by the standards of 10 years ago:

Should the taxpayer be paying $50 billion to subsidise people staying at home watching movies?

The facts are now obvious. The coalition have wasted eight years on an inadequate system when they could have rolled out Labor's fibre-to-the-home model right from the start.

What does the coalition's failed NBN model matter? Well, it matters to Australians. It matters to them because they want a fast system for their home businesses or for their students to study. It is absolutely imperative that we have a better system instead of this incompetent system that we have under the coalition. So it's going to be up to an Albanese Labor government to fix the coalition's NBN mess, and I look forward to that taking place.


No comments