House debates

Monday, 21 November 2022

Questions without Notice


2:50 pm

Photo of Andrew CharltonAndrew Charlton (Parramatta, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question as to the Minister for Communications. How will the Albanese Labor government fix the state of the NBN in order to deliver faster and more reliable broadband speeds for Australian families and businesses?

2:51 pm

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question and I note the great expertise he brings to this Parliament in the broadband policy space. As he well knows, reliable, quality, accessible, high-speed internet is essential 21st century infrastructure. Since it was initiated by Labor, the NBN has been a key investment in our nation's future. It's helped Australians stay connected during the pandemic. It supported telehealth and remote education and it has boosted economic productivity by expanding access to customers of small business.

Labor took a policy the last election to expand the NBN fibre network, because we believe that all Australians should be able to access the connectivity and reliability benefits that full fibre broadband will deliver. What this will do is further boost the productivity of regional businesses, support the increased number of Australians continuing to work, study and transact remotely. Central to this commitment is to ensure that families, businesses and communities in our outer suburbs and regions aren't left behind. That is why the Albanese government is investing $2.4 billion to build a better NBN, giving an additional 1.5 million premises full fibre access, including 660,000 in our regions. The fulfilment of this investment was reflected in our budget. What it means is that 90 per cent of homes and businesses in the NBN fixed line footprint will have access to gigabit speeds by late 2025.

I am asked about how our NBN upgrade will deliver better broadband. I've outlined that in respect of speed, quality, accessibility—all improvements about how we conduct our lives and the small business benefits, all of them positive. But I respectfully note that there is a different opinion out there in the context of this question, an opinion that describes this policy as wasteful spending. You may ask who would describe this as wasteful spending. The answer is those opposite. Those opposite think that investing in full-fibre broadband for the regions is wasteful spending. What an insult to regional Australia. The waste was 10 years of a failed multitechnology mix, investing in a copper network that was completely unsuitable.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Manger of Opposition Business?

Photo of Paul FletcherPaul Fletcher (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy) Share this | | Hansard source

On completeness and accuracy, only 51,000 premises completed after—

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Resume your seat. I give the call to the Leader of the House.

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm surprised he wants to stand up at the moment at all, but I reckon that was an abuse of standing orders.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I think everyone in this parliament knows that was abuse of the standing orders. I just remind all members you will get the call out of respect for the office you hold. I ask you to respect the standing orders as well. I give the call—

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is warned! I give the call to the Minister for Communications.

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

As I was saying, the masterclass in economic and technological incompetence was by those opposite, who promised to build an NBN for $29 billion. It became $41 billion, then $49 billion, and—wait for it—it ended up costing $58 billion: double the cost. That's the waste.