Senate debates

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Bills

National Broadband Network Financial Transparency Bill 2010 (No. 2); Second Reading

9:51 am

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water) Share this | Hansard source

I find that quite offensive, to be perfectly honest with you, Senator Ronaldson. I am talking about a great project in South Australia and about all the places in South Australia where this project is being rolled out. Another hardworking person whom I have not mentioned is Nick Champion. He has been working very hard, lobbying on behalf of the good people of Wakefield—I see you are leaving the chamber, Senator Ronaldson—to ensure that they get the NBN sooner rather than later. That is because Nick Champion and the people of Wakefield know how important the benefits of the NBN will be.

The NBN is critical for the future of education, small business, the health sector and our ability to work smarter and faster. It is a project of crucial national importance, and its impact on how Australians com­municate with each other and with the world will be profound.

The opposition does not seem to get this, but fortunately most Australians do. We know they get it because of how quick they have been to sign up for the NBN. Willunga is one of five NBN mainland first-release sites. I mentioned that more than 90 per cent of households there had signed up for the connection, which I know is very pleasing to Senator Conroy. In some of the other mainland first-release sites, the take-up rates are 88 per cent of households in the site near Armidale and 78 per cent in Kiama Downs, both of which are in New South Wales.

In addition to the NBN fibre connections, the Gillard government has also committed to fast-tracking the introduction of fixed wireless and next generation satellite services so that regional Australia, including South Australia, can get access to better broadband as soon as possible. These next generation wireless and satellite systems will provide customers with significantly improved services, offering peak speeds of 12 megabits per second. For regional South Australia, the NBN provides opportunities for businesses to connect to distant markets through high-speed broadband.

A number of contractors are interested in the NBN construction work in South Australia and the Northern Territory. Further discussions are taking place between these contractors and NBN Co. NBN Co. is continuing internal planning and design in readiness for a future construction contract, when that is let.

The fine South Australian coastal town of Victor Harbor is a fibre backbone link in the Australian government's $250 million Reg­ional Backbone Blackspots Program. This program is delivering 6,000 kilometres of fibre backbone across regional Australia, benefiting about 400,000 people. The NBN backbone infrastructure in South Australia was completed in March 2011, and new commercial broadband services in Victor Harbor were launched in May this year.

The delivery of new ADSL2+ broadband services for residents of Victor Harbor, Strathalbyn and Goolwa represents a sub­stantial improvement to the ADSL1 services previously on offer. The new fibre infra­structure allows internet service providers to expand their services into many parts of regional areas in South Australia, including Victor Harbor. The investment in South Australia will be $34.1 million, as part of the overall program funding. This includes the $12.6 million allocated to provide a backbone link to Victor Harbor and part of the $70.7 million allocated to provide a backbone link from Broken Hill to Mildura and from Shepparton to Gawler.

As we know, particularly from what Senator Urquhart said in her speech, the opposition has taken every opportunity to prevent Australians from having this world-class, affordable broadband service. This bill is just another attempt to do that. I will oppose this bill when it comes to a vote.

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