A second rate NBN from a third rate government

THE FEDERATION CHAMBER

MONDAY, 26 MAY 2014

I do not think this government could lie straight in bed. Two weeks ago, the government handed down a budget which included broken promises on education, on health, on pensions and on taxes. Then they come into the parliament and move this motion where they are proselytising about keeping their promises on the NBN. Quick news flash: they have broken promises on the NBN as well. In April last year, the Prime Minister said that, if elected, everyone would have access to 25 megabits per second by the end of 2016. That promise has been broken as well.

On the last sitting day in this parliament, when everyone was distracted by the closure of Holden, Malcolm Turnbull, the Minister for Communications, came into the parliament and said that the government was breaking that promise as well.

It is not the only promise they have broken on the NBN. They promised nine million households would get fibre to the node. Now only about three million households will get that. There is also this ripper: in February last year, then opposition leader said Tony Abbott:

If we don’t go ahead with the NBN in its current form, that’s about $50 billion less that the Commonwealth will need to borrow.

That is not true either and the budget papers prove it. Last year’s budget—our last budget—showed that we would allocate $30.4 billion in government equity to build the NBN. In this budget the Liberal Party shows that it will allocate $29.5 billion. It is not a $50 billion difference; it is a $1 billion difference.

The real difference is what the people of Australia will get. Under Labor they would have got the real NBN, fibre to the premises, a game-changing project that would change the way we live and change the way we work. Under this government, only 25 per cent of Australia will get fibre to the premises. The rest of Australia will miss out. They will get a second-rate NBN from a third-rate government.

We have to ask ourselves why this is happening. I think it is because the Liberal Party do not understand how important the NBN is. The Prime Minister says he is the infrastructure Prime Minister of Australia but he describes the NBN as, effectively, “a video entertainment system”. He wants to tear down this project but, at the same time, to build a paid parental leave scheme, to give $50,000 to rich mums who do not need it. I make this point for this reason: the cost of the paid parental leave scheme over the next decade will be more than the cost of building the NBN over the next decade. Which one do you think will have a bigger impact on the Australian economy? I can tell you it is the NBN. The Member for Gilmore should know better because in her electorate is the town of Kiama, one of the first places to get the NBN. The people in Kiama who are using it love it.

There is woman named Sharon Parker, who lives in your electorate, said this:

Downloading, uploading, fast, brilliant. Sending emails, instant. Downloading really big documents, we get it straight away. Brilliant. We don’t have any dramas, none whatsoever.

By her actions, the Member for Gilmore is denying the rest of her electorate the same service that Sharon Parker is getting. Towns like Nowra, Gerringong and Gerroa will all miss out on what Kiama is getting. They will get the second-rate NBN.

And don’t worry; we will tell them about it. If they do not know about it already, we will tell them, come the next election in 2016. We will tell the people of Nowra, Gerringong and Gerroa that they are missing out on the real NBN because of this short-sighted government. We will remind them of the promises—on education, on health, on pensions, on taxes and on the NBN—that this Prime Minister has broken. They are missing out because they trusted this untrustworthy government.