Senate debates

Thursday, 24 March 2011

National Broadband Network Companies Bill 2010; Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (National Broadband Network Measures — Access Arrangements) Bill 2011

In Committee

9:37 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern and Remote Australia) Share this | Hansard source

In dealing with this amendment I just want to make the point that, had the OPEL contract been honoured, Australia would by now have a national fast broadband network. What this amendment does is talk about when the minister may declare that the network is built and fully operational. Whether is it is 2018 or 2020 I guess matters little. What it does highlight to the people of Australia is that the minister will have 9½ years to declare that the whole thing is fully operational. The minister may well get up and say, ‘That is the outside date; we could declare this in two year’s time’—well, you could, but if you had any thought that that might be the case, why are you extending this period by another 18 months with this amendment?

You talk about greenfields sites. This just demonstrates to me that not even the minister—who I have to say has been consistently optimistic; nobody else knows why—believes that the whole network will eventually be declared to be built and fully operational. But even the minister is not prepared to put two bob on the fact that it will be built and fully operational before 2020 if you go by this amendment. It is has been like this from day one. The minister first said, ‘Look we can build this for $4.7 billion’—$4.7 billion! It is now—


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