Thursday, 3 March 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Communications, Senator Fifield. I refer to Mr Turnbull's claim in August last year that the cost of an optic fibre NBN would be $3,700 a home and stay that high for more than a decade. Given leaked documents from nbn co show that nbn co has built fibre for significantly less than $3,700 a home, does the current minister stand by Mr Turnbull's claim?
I thank Senator McLucas for her question. I acknowledge that she, like members of the press gallery who are in receipt of allegedly leaked documents, hyperventilated and got sweaty palms when those documents were in prospect—
Opposition senators interjecting—
The company published its audited half-year results earlier last month showing full fibre to the premises continuing to cost on average $4,419 per premise. In some cases the cost of connecting a premise actually runs into tens of thousands of dollars where there are lots of civil works to undertake. This is actually the model favoured by the Australian Labor Party, which is also known as 'fibre at any cost'.
I have got all day, Mr President. What is important to recognise is that the trial that was referred to in the paper today of nbn doing a variation of a fibre-to-the-node product is not new and is not a secret because the company announced that it was doing this in its half-year results last month. That is how much of a secret it is—that nbn announced in its half-year results that it was doing this. nbn has always had the approach under this government of doing that which is most cost-effective. (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister confirm that nbn co reports leaked this week show that fibre-to-the-premises NBN costs are coming down, contradicting the latest nbn corporate plan, which claims that the cost per premise will be $3,700 'over the full period of the bill'?
As I indicated earlier, the costs of fibre to the premises are very high. They are very high and, as I indicated earlier, the audited half-yearly results released last month show that full fibre to the premise is continuing to cost, on average, over $4,000 per premise.
Thanks, Mr President. It is clear that fibre to the premise is expensive. It is over $4,000 per premise. Nbn have had a trial of a variation of fibre-to-the-node product. It is not fibre to the premise; it is a variation of a fibre-to-the-node product, which is no secret, because nbn announced that they were doing it—no stunning revelation. Nbn seeks to do that which is most cost effective.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister confirm that, in areas where Mr Turnbull's NBN has been switched on, complaints continue to emerge that internet speeds are patchy and in some cases even worse than ADSL? Minister, isn't it true that only Labor's fibre-to-the-premises NBN will deliver faster, higher quality and more reliable broadband to Australians?