Monday, 14 July 2014
Questions without Notice
National Broadband Network
My question is to the Minister for Communications. Will the minister inform the House on the performance of the NBN for the 2013-14 financial year? How does this performance align with the government's goal of ensuring Australia's largest infrastructure project is delivered in a reliable, honest and transparent way?
I thank the honourable member for his question. I can confirm that for the first time in its history the National Broadband Network project, NBN Co, has actually met, indeed it has exceeded, a target. Under the previous administration, of course, one target after another was set only to be missed. At 30 June this year the NBN passed 492,000 premises with fibre; the target set shortly after the election was 467,000 premises. That is a very big change.
Mr Albanese interjecting—
The honourable member for Grayndler during the period that he likes to refer to as the golden age of communications, that brief period when he was the minister just before the election—he has promised me a question about that, one day; I am still waiting for it—was in the Lateline studio with me. In the course of an interview he said that the NBN was on time and on budget. At that time, just before the election, the Labor government were promising that by 30 June this year it was going to pass 1.3 million premises. They knew that even the NBN Co under their management knew that it was not going to do that, because they had on their desk a write down of that target, just as the 1.3 million had been a write-down of the target before, of about 400,000. It was a classic case of cascading targets falling one after the other. They were hopelessly incompetent in government and are now irresponsible in opposition, because they are failing to adjust to the reality of the current situation, which is getting this project back on track. We are doing that with competent management, a competent board and transparency that matches that of a public listed company. Every quarter the NBN's financials are published. Every six months there is a full analyst briefing.
Mr Husic interjecting—
I hear the member for Chifley interjecting. He was one of the great advocates of NBN Co. He was part of the fibre-to-the-premises cult, which ignored actually connecting anybody. All they wanted to do was get fibre to the press release and—oh boy!—they got that. They got fibre to more press releases than any government in the history of the Commonwealth. But what we have done is get fibre to more customers than any other government. In fact, there are three times as many customers connected to the NBN as there were at the time of the last election. That is real action, real progress; the mark of a grown-up government of real competence.