House debates

Monday, 18 October 2010

Constituency Statements

Ryan Electorate: Broadband

10:48 am

Photo of Jane PrenticeJane Prentice (Ryan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to place on record my congratulations to Brisbane City Council and the lord mayor, Campbell Newman, on their broadband announcement last week. This will provide all Brisbane residents and businesses with superfast optic broadband within four years with genuine open access. I know the families and businesses of Ryan realise the significance of this project.

I happen to know that this was not an overnight decision. The Brisbane City Council has been working for some time on developing a plan, developing a model and undertaking a trial—indeed, doing the groundwork that NBN Co. should be doing. What was the first thing the minister for communications said? He said he wanted to see a cost-benefit analysis. He wanted to see a cost-benefit analysis for a project that will see high-speed broadband fibre delivered to every residence in Brisbane at no cost to the rate payers. Indeed, there may even be an opportunity for a return. Yet he refuses to table a cost-benefit analysis for NBN Co., which proposes to spend more than $43 billion of taxpayers’ money. The emperor, in this case the minister, has no clothes. By the next morning the minister was congratulating the lord mayor and saying he is pleased that there is another Liberal who supports broadband. The problem we have is that the Labor minister and his overpaid failed Labor mate are the ones who do not understand broadband. As is the standard ALP reaction, when they do not understand things, they throw more money at it. It is the taxpayers and the economy that subsequently suffer.

You might think that Brisbane City Council had been keeping all this planning and research to themselves, that they had not offered to work with NBN Co., but that is not the case. From the day NBN Co. was announced, Brisbane City Council made submissions and wrote not just to Minister Conroy but also to Minister Albanese and to Minister Tanner, but no-one wanted to know. The council even appeared before the Senate inquiry. So why didn’t NBN Co. want to know? Why didn’t they want to talk to Brisbane City Council and perhaps even benefit from the years of work council and other industry experts had invested in their model? Because, as I referred to in my maiden speech, NBN Co. is not really interested in providing a level playing field. They are not interested in providing genuine open access. Their priority is not to ensure Australians have access to the best communications at the best rates. What they want to do is build another monopoly. Do they never learn?

I congratulate Brisbane for a sensible, low-cost, high-achieving broadband plan that by its very existence gives the lie to Labor’s NBN spin. If we are genuine about bringing Australia’s communications into the 21st century then the NBN Co. plan will not do it.