Senate debates

Wednesday, 5 December 2018


Regional Broadband Scheme Levy

4:36 pm

Photo of Anne UrquhartAnne Urquhart (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I, and also on behalf of Senators O'Neill and Griff, move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Minister for Communications and the Arts (the Minister) is seeking to legislate a $7.10 per month broadband levy, on the basis that it would offset the costs of regional National Broadband Network (NBN) services,

(ii) the Federal Government has not updated its proposed levy charge to reflect the latest $700 million cost increase in the regional NBN fixed-wireless rollout,

(iii) this lack of transparency means that the proposed levy formula will eventually produce a higher than expected charge in the future, if legislated,

(iv) the report of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network (the Committee) into the rollout of the NBN in rural and regional areas, which was presented on 19 November 2018, addresses the Minister's lack of transparency in recommendation 19, which states: 'The committee recommends the Government update its Regional Broadband Scheme levy modelling to account for the cost increases that have occurred since the original modelling was undertaken in 2015. The Government should report to the committee within two weeks of the tabling of this report to advise what the updated levy amount is',

(v) Government members of the committee agreed to recommendation 19,

(vi) the Government has since failed to advise the committee of the updated levy amount by 3 December 2018, in accordance with recommendation 19, and

(vii) the Minister is seemingly unable to deliver anything on time; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to:

(i) stop hiding the full impact of its proposed Regional Broadband Scheme levy charge on consumers, and be transparent about its future impact, and

(ii) take urgent steps to comply with recommendation 19 of the report of the Committee, and provide the Committee with an estimate of the updated Regional Broadband Scheme levy charge by 21 December 2018.

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

Updating the regional broadband scheme modelling is complex because of the nature and number of inputs and steps. It is not a back-of-the-napkin calculation. The increasing cost for fixed wireless reflects the deficiencies in Labor's original plan to fix wireless that dramatically underestimated take-up and demand for data. It is not feasible to complete in a few weeks, and industry and consumers deserve certainty that any recalculation is thorough. The legislation already requires the levy to be regularly reviewed and adjusted on the basis of ACCC advice, subject to legislative protections. Those who want to secure long-term funding for the hundreds of thousands of regional premises that rely on fast broadband should support the legislation so a thorough recalculation can occur.

Question agreed to.