House debates

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Questions without Notice


3:05 pm

Photo of Luke SimpkinsLuke Simpkins (Cowan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. The OECD criticised the government’s National Broadband Network because it locks Australia into a single fixed line broadband technology provider instead of enabling competing technologies, including the HFC cable network. Yesterday the member for La Trobe exposed the real problem with picking technology when she said, ‘We really need to get moving on the NBN in case the technology that might be considered becomes obsolete.’ Hasn’t the member for La Trobe shown how a government that has lost its way can now find its way by initiating a cost-benefit analysis on this $43 billion spending commitment?

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question. On the reference to the Productivity Commission delay tactic of the member for Wentworth: no, we will not be doing that. Clearly, when you have an opposition that is on its 20th plan—all of them failures—what it knows about is delay. It absolutely knows about delay—12 long years in government, delay, delay, delay; in opposition, the generation of plan after plan, each of them a failure. And then of course it has already presignalled that, as an opposition, it is not at all interested in what the Productivity Commission has to say. All of this is just fitting in with its approach to politics—three words: demolish the NBN—in line with what the Leader of the Opposition stands for: three words on everything, and all of them about stopping this, ending that and demolishing something else, because his entire approach to politics is negative.

Can I refer the member to the OECD report, because I think it makes some interesting reading. I would refer him to its contents. The OECD said:

NBN is a far-reaching reform project to fill the gaps in the broadband internet sector.

They said:

NBN will improve internet services for the entire population and promote a fairer competition between private firms on retail services.

They went on to say:

Due to Australia’s size and relatively low population density it will be difficult for more than one competing fixed telecommunications network to exist.

And further:

The NBN will avoid the risk of a geographic digital divide as it will cover the entire population, whereas if it were done by the private sector it would be done more gradually and only to the most densely populated areas.

Of course, this was a factor recognised by the country Independents in this House because they did not want their communities left behind. They understood that the NBN would be a transformative difference for their communities and they did not want their communities to be left behind metropolitan Australia. Well, neither does the government. We want to govern for all Australia and the NBN is part of that. Then the OECD went on to find:

The use of the new network can bring large savings, 0.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent of GDP

they are large savings—

to the cost of public services over a 10-year period in four areas: health care, education, transport and electricity, which on their own would warrant construction.

So I ask the member for Cowan: why is it that he wants Australians to settle for health services, education services, transport services and electricity services which are not at the standard that we could have with the NBN? Why does he not want this nation to realise the savings identified by the OECD? We understand that the opposition will, at every step of the way, resist this nation-building project and this transformative technology, because that is what the opposition is: a bunch of wreckers. We will get on with building the nation and realising the new economic capacity and the new service delivery modes for all Australians that the NBN will give.