Consideration in Detail – NBN

The government have broken a lot of promises.

They have broken their promise that there would be no cuts to health.

They have broken their promise that there would be no cuts to education.

They have broken their promise that there would be no changes to the pension.

As the Minister knows, because he did it, they have also broken their promise of no cuts to the ABC and no cuts to SBS.

But it is not the only area where this government have broken promises: the government have also broken promises on the NBN.

The biggest one was a promise made in a press release by the minister on 9 April 2013 where he and the now Prime Minister said:

“Under the Coalition’s NBN all premises will have access to download speeds 25mbps to 100mbps by the end of 2016.”

On election night, the Prime Minister went further in a letter to Australians where he said:

“I want our NBN rolled out within three years and Malcolm Turnbull is the right person to make this happen.”

Now the budget papers show that the Minister is failing to deliver on this and that less than 25 per cent of this original promise will be met.

The government promised before the election that everyone would have access to 25 megabits per second by the end of 2016, all 11.3 million homes.

The budget overview says that only:

“3.1 million homes and businesses are anticipated to have the NBN in place or under construction by September 2016.”

That is not the only promise that the minister has broken. I am sure that he will recall in his policy FAQs, that were put on his website on 9 August 2013, that state:

“It is forecast that the large scale rollout of any changes to the network design—such as implementing fibre to the node—would commence in mid 2014.”

That did not happen.

It did not happen in mid-2014. It is now mid-2015, and the large scale rollout of fibre to the node still has not started.

The government is at least a year behind.

The minister in opposition was also very critical of the cost of the NBN.

In 2013 the now Minister promised, in his election policy document at page 15, that the NBN, under this government, would cost $29.5 billion, but he has failed to deliver on this promise as well.

In a radio interview with Tom Elliott on 14 August last year, the minister said that the total cost of the government’s NBN would now be ‘about $42 billion’, and that does not include the cost of upgrading the network down the track.

What do you get for this? You get a second-rate NBN, a network that includes fibre to the node, which Simon Hackett—who the minister appointed to the NBN board—said recently ‘sucks’. And he continued:

“If I could wave a wand, it’s the bit I’d erase.”

In short, under this minister, the NBN is rolling out slower than he promised, and it is more expensive than he promised.

In his election policy, he also stated at page 2:

“Suburbs, regions, towns and business districts with the poorest services and greatest need for upgrades will receive first priority.”

The minister is breaking this promise as well.

If you go onto the government’s myBroadband website, you can get a list of places right across Australia that have terrible access to the internet.

Here are just a couple: Macquarie Fields, Broken Hill, Orchard Hills, Cronulla, Gladstone, Russell Island, Tingalpa, Snowtown, Paradise, St Peters, Bothwell, Southport, St Marys, Little Swanport, Point Cook, Laverton, Maryborough, Ascot, Munster, Scarborough and Dundee.

Minister, if you go to your website, there are parts of these places that are ranked E for broadband availability and E for broadband quality.

That is the lowest rating available on your website.

These are the places that you said would ‘receive first priority’, but the problem is that they have not.

They are not on the NBN rollout plan.

They are not being prioritised.

My question to you, Minister, is this: given that you have failed to deliver on so many of your promises on the NBN, will you make a commitment today to put parts of these places that are rated E and E for availability and quality on the 18-month rollout plan when it is updated at the end of this month?