Wednesday, 24 November 2021
National Broadband Network
I rise today to talk about Labor's plans to fix our National Broadband Network. I don't need to tell Canberrans how important this is. We know, because we've got some of the worst access to the NBN in this country.
The NBN designed by the last Labor government was supposed to be a transformational infrastructure project. If it had been implemented as intended, all Australians would now have access to fast, reliable broadband. But Tony Abbott set about destroying Labor's vision for the NBN. Instead of Labor's 21st-century fibre-to-the-premises network, we got a mismatch of technologies that doesn't do the job and includes ancient copper networks that simply do not work properly. The result for Australians is some of the worst internet connections in the world; in fact, Australia now ranks 59th for average broadband speeds. That is shocking and unacceptable.
Of every capital city in the nation, Canberra, our national capital, has by far the worst NBN infrastructure. Around 70 per cent of the network in our nation's capital is made up of substandard fibre-to-the-node technology. That includes almost all of my electorate, where this building, our national parliament, is located. No other capital city is nearly this bad. I campaigned earlier this year for the ACT to be included in future NBN upgrades, and I'm glad that 10 Canberra suburbs, six in my electorate, were finally included. But it's not good enough and it never will be under this tired old Liberal government.
An Albanese Labor government will secure for more Australian families and businesses quality, high-speed internet by expanding full-fibre NBN access to an extra 1.5 million premises. A Labor government will ensure that 90 per cent of Australians in the fixed-line footprint—over 10 million premises—will have access to world-class speeds by 2025. We will also keep the NBN in public hands, keeping internet costs for families affordable while ensuring improvements to the network. Reliable, quality high-speed internet is not a luxury or something nice to have. It's incredibly important in today's economy and society.
Labor's expansion will particularly benefit regional Australia, which has been left behind by the Morrison-Joyce government by providing up to 660,000 additional homes and businesses in our regions with access to optical fibre. For 30,000 families without access to the internet, Labor will support them with access to free broadband for a year under Labor's plan for better NBN.
We've known for a long time the impact that not having internet has on disadvantaging schoolchildren. During COVID this became incredibly clear with people needing to homeschool just how far behind they could be left without access to decent broadband. Under our plan, eligible families will be identified by schools, state education departments and local community organisations and eligibility validated. Australia should have done it once, done it right and done it with fibre. The coalition have flubbed it, and Labor will fix it.