THURSDAY, 3 DECEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Cost of fixing copper network to build NBN blows out by 900%
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Merry Christmas everyone. It’s the last sitting day of the year and it is not ending very well for the Abbott – Turnbull Government. You’ve got the Abbott forces and the Turnbull forces at each other’s throats, you’ve got Mal Brough now hanging by a thread, just waiting for Malcolm Turnbull to sack him, and that’s what he should do, and then today on the front page of The Australian newspaper, we now have another leak from the NBN Company that is revealing that the cost of upgrading Malcolm Turnbull’s old copper network to build his second rate NBN has blown out by about 900 percent.
Just a quick update on the NBN. We have learnt over the last few months that the cost of building Malcolm Turnbull’s second rate NBN has blown out from $29 billion dollars to $56 billion dollars – it’s almost doubled. We have also learnt that the time it’s going to take to build this second rate network has also doubled. Malcolm Turnbull promised that everyone would have access to the NBN by the end of next year. That’s now blown out to 2020. We have also learnt that Malcolm Turnbull has already had to buy 1,800 kilometres of new copper to build his second rate network. Last week there was a leak from NBN that revealed that the Optus HFC network that he got from Optus to build this network, doesn’t work and that you can’t use it. And now today, another leak, a leak on the front page of the Australian newspaper which reveals that the cost of upgrading this old copper network to make his second rate NBN work has blown out by about 900 percent. Malcolm Turnbull thought it would cost about fifty million dollars, now we find out that it will cost more than six hundred million dollars.
This myth that Malcolm Turnbull perpetrates that he somehow fixed the NBN is just that – it is a myth. He has made a mess of the NBN. He’s doubled the cost. Doubled the time it will take to build it and now we find out that the cost of upgrading the copper has blown out by almost 900 percent. That’s what this document reveals – that the cost of upgrading the copper to make his second rate network work has blown out by almost 900 percent. Now most people don’t get promoted for blowing their budget by almost 900 percent. Most people get the sack. Malcolm Turnbull was made Prime Minister, not because of what he did to the NBN but in spite of it.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: What needs to be done [inaudible]?
CLARE: Malcolm Turnbull needs to come clean today. He came to Government, held a Strategic Review, and said that the NBN was going to be able to build a second rate network forty-one billion dollars. It has proved to be hopelessly wrong. The information he relied on, a report written by mates that he owns a yacht with that said I can do all of this cheap, has proved to be hopelessly wrong. That’s what this leaked document proves. The NBN Company has refused to provide this information to the Parliament, that’s why people inside NBN have obviously leaked it now. Malcolm Turnbull and NBN should come clean about this.
JOURNALIST: So should a different system, should there be an overhaul?
CLARE: My view on this has been very clear from the start. That fibre to the node is second rate. That it is not what people are going to need in the long term. It’s why Verizon in the United States is getting rid of copper and rolling out fibre. It’s why Singapore, Japan, South Korea, even New Zealand have decided that we need fibre to the home, not fibre to the node, relying upon last century’s copper.
Malcolm Turnbull said he could do this, he said he could do it cheap. What this leaked document today reveals that that was all wrong. That was all a lie. It’s not going to cost $50 million, it’s blown out by almost 900 percent to more than $600 million. It’s just another example of Malcolm Turnbull’s bad judgment. We see it on Mal Brough, and his refusal to sack Mal Brough. We saw it years ago when he accepted the advice of fraudster Godwin Grech, who gave him false information and we see it now on the NBN.
JOURNALIST: Just on Mal Brough, obviously Malcolm Turnbull is standing by the Minister. Why though does he have to go?
CLARE: This is very simple as far as I am concerned. Remember when Arthur Sinodinos was under investigation by the ICAC. Tony Abbott stood him aside. When he was first asked to appear at ICAC he came as a witness and they said he doesn’t need to stand aside, he’s a witness. Then ICAC said he is under investigation, Tony Abbott stood him aside. Mal Brough is in exactly the same situation – he is under investigation by the Australian Federal Police. A court has decided that there is sufficient information, there is sufficient evidence, to justify the execution of a search warrant on his home. Now if Arthur Sinodinos was stood aside because he was under investigation then Mal Brough should be stood aside because he is under investigation. And if Malcolm Turnbull does not do that all that shows is that the standards under Malcolm Turnbull are lower than the standards set by Tony Abbott.
JOURNALIST: But are you [inaudible] charges laid?
CLARE: He is under investigation by the Federal Police. A court has decided that there is sufficient evidence to raid his home and as I said Arthur Sinodinos was stood aside by a Prime Minister because he was under investigation. Mal Brough is under investigation as well. Let me say this – it took Tony Abbott 32 days to get rid of Bronwyn Bishop after the helicopter scandal. It is now 16 days since Mal Brough’s home was raided by the Federal Police. Tick, tick, tick – how long is it going to take Malcolm Turnbull to sack Mal Brough.
Thanks very much.
MEDIA CONTACT: RYAN HAMILTON 0414 599 468