Thursday, 14 November 2019
Questions without Notice
National Broadband Network
Thank you very much, Mr President—no relation to the other Senator Smith. My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, my friend and Western Australian colleague Senator Reynolds. Can the minister update the Senate on how the rollout of the National Broadband Network is helping small and family businesses in regional, rural and remote Western Australia?
I thank my colleague and good friend Senator Dean Smith for that question, but I also congratulate him for his tireless advocacy for regional and rural communities right across Australia and Western Australia in particular. The Morrison government is getting on with the job of rolling out the NBN to rural and regional Australia, nowhere more so than in our home state of Western Australia. Almost all premises in regional Australia already have access to the network, and for the few that don't construction is well underway.
Regional Australia is being served by a combination of fixed line and fixed wireless services augmented by the Sky Muster satellite services to some of the more difficult to serve premises in rural and regional Australia. Once the network rollout is complete, around 70 per cent of premises in regional Australia will be serviced by fixed line broadband. This level of connectivity will bring life-changing education, expertise and customers to small and family businesses in regional, rural and remote Western Australia and also, of course, around the nation. According to the 2018 report Connecting Australia by AlphaBeta, business growth in NBN connected regions accelerated at five times the pace of regions without the NBN. This growth is expected to create up to 20,000 additional jobs in regional Australia by 2021. For example, the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mining Innovation Hub in Western Australia is bringing together scientists, engineers and mining experts on collaborative projects that will add significant value to the Australian minerals industry. High-speed internet on the NBN is enabling businesses of all sizes and in all locations to innovate and make connections thanks to this government.
NBN Co has recently launched Sky Muster Plus, which will provide regional Australians with even more access to data. Essential internet services such as online banking, email and software updates will not count towards a consumer's data allowance when they use the Sky Muster Plus service. Also, if the monthly data cap has been reached, wholesale download speeds will not be slowed for these essential services.
Early trials of Sky Muster Plus have shown that up to one-third of the data used by consumers was unmetered—a full third was unmetered. By using Sky Muster Plus, small and family businesses, from farms to the local general store, will have peace of mind that they can conduct essential business without interruptions—a great thing for rural and regional Australia.
(—) (): I am really not surprised at all that those opposite do not want this chamber to be reminded of their complete, utter and abject failure on the NBN. In six years, Labor connected 51,000 households. How many are we connecting every single week? We are connecting 35,000 Australian households to the NBN each and every week. Those opposite paid $6 billion for the NBN to pass just three per cent of Australian households. But, under the Morrison government, the NBN is now available to more than 10.2 million premises. Under Labor, the NBN missed every rollout target it set for itself. It's plan would have cost the Australian taxpayer $30 billion more. (Time expired)