Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Questions without Notice
National Broadband Network
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister and Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy. Does the minister share the views of the member for Chifley, who last week responded to the manifest failure of the current strategy for rolling out the National Broadband Network by urging that Telstra undertake a larger role? Does the minister agree that greater utilisation of existing construction expertise would have been one practical way of turning his weekend admission of being only 'reasonably certain' that NBN Co. will meet its 30 June targets into a much higher level of certainty?
I thank Senator Birmingham for being able to get a question up through the tactics committee. Those opposite profess to care about the rollout of the National Broadband Network. Those opposite have sought at every turn to impede, get in the way of and slow down the rollout of the network. The only threat to the National Broadband Network meeting its rollout targets is those opposite. The policy that they have released will result in nine million Australian homes and businesses being disconnected from Labor's NBN.
I am confident that NBN Co. will reach its revised June fibre forecast for premises passed. As I have said on numerous occasions, the monthly construction updates that NBN Co. posts on its website are provided for information purposes and are intended to be a guide only. They state that quite specifically. I would advise those opposite who have spent their time trolling around looking for every piece of disinformation on the net—and I mentioned this to you in estimates—that there is a very, very good website produced by a 16-year-old kid which provides more information and more research than you have done in your three years of efforts at Senate estimates. He simply sat down and designed it himself. He is 16 years old and he can tell you more about the government's NBN rollout than those opposite. (Time expired)
Senator Heffernan interjecting—
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister confirm that it was little more than blind ideological prejudice on the part of the Labor government and NBN senior management that precluded a greater utilisation of existing construction expertise in the rollout, such as that suggested by your own Mr Husic and, of course, utilising skills of companies like Telstra?
Once again Senator Birmingham spreads misinformation to the Australian public and to this chamber. The construction process actually went through a tender process. Telstra were entitled to apply like every other company. In going through that process NBN Co. got the best value for Australian taxpayers. I am not familiar with all the information of the tender process nor whether Telstra did or did not apply. The tenders were properly run under government guidelines. So far this year, NBN Co. has been switched on all over the country including Aspley, Bacchus Marsh, Blacktown, Coffs Harbour, Darwin, Gosford, Gungahlin, Hobart, Launceston, Toowoomba and Townsville and over 300 new developments all over the country. Many more areas will be turned on in the very near future. (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Given the minister's complete failure to meet his own NBN targets, will the minister confirm his promise to go to the backbench if Mr Rudd is returned to the prime ministership? Has this promise resulted in a surge in support for Mr Rudd in caucus with the minister succeeding where Mr Crean and Mr Shorten and both Senators Carr and, allegedly, Senator Wong have all failed in delivering a knock-out blow to Ms Gillard's leadership?
Honourable senators interjecting—
Order! When there is silence on both sides—just wait a minute, Senator Conroy.
Senator Conroy interjecting—
No, Senator Conroy, you have not got the call. You will get the call when there is silence on both sides. Order! If you wish to debate the issue, you know that the time to debate the issue is after three o'clock. Senator Conroy.
The withering attack on the National Broadband Network from those opposite could not even make three questions. They made about two and a half questions before they had to wander off into politics. The only threat to all Australians getting access to the National Broadband Network is those opposite. Under their policy, if you want to get connected to Labor's NBN, they want you to pay up to $5,000 per home or you are going to be disconnected from it. Those watching the ABC News over the last two nights might have noticed that Malcolm Turnbull refused to be interviewed—
Mr Turnbull refused to be interviewed because he did not want to try to explain how he was going to use pixie dust to make Australia's copper network deliver the speeds that those opposite are promising. They know at the end of the day that their policy is 'fraudband'. (Time expired)