Doorstop – Parliament House – Monday, 29 February 2016


SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull’s NBN plan in crisis; same sex marriage; early election

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: I think the front page of today’s Sydney Morning Herald says it all – Turnbull’s NBN plan in crisis.

Malcolm Turnbull has basically had one job for the last two and a half years and that’s to build the NBN, and he has made a shocking mess of it. Malcolm Turnbull has been a failure as Communications Minister and a failure in building the NBN.

The cost of it has doubled under Malcolm Turnbull. The time it’s going to take to build to build the NBN is twice what Malcolm Turnbull promised. The cost of fixing the old copper network to make it work has blown out by a thousand per cent. Where they are switching this on, in the Central Coast, in the Hunter, in Bundaberg it’s not working properly and now today this extremely damaging leak on the front page of newspapers across the country, which is only just over a week old, a confidential document from NBN Co, which reveals that they are two thirds behind in the construction rollout of their second rate fibre-to-the-node.

This is a massive failure. This is an epic fail. Malcolm Turnbull was a failure Communications Minister. It is proven by this story today and so far he has been a failure as Prime Minister.

Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Do you think same sex marriage is going to become an election issue?

CLARE: We’ve said the election of a Shorten Government will mean that we will vote on legislation for marriage equality in the first hundred days. I think most Australians think to themselves why are politicians still talking about this. They’ve made up their mind, why can’t Australian politicians do that.

JOURNALIST: Would Labor be happy to go to an early election in July?

CLARE: We are ready to go. Labor’s got policies, the Libs don’t. Labor is united, the Liberal Party isn’t. There is a story in the Courier Mail today saying that Liberal MP’s are telling Malcolm Turnbull to cut the waffle. They are sick of the talk.

I’ve seen it with the NBN. Malcolm Turnbull is fantastic at talking. He could talk under water with a mouth full of marbles but don’t ask him to make a decision. He can’t make decisions and when he makes decisions like going back to the old second rate copper network, it’s a shocker. We’ve got this terrible mess with the NBN. Malcolm Turnbull is now being told by his own MP’s, shut up, stop talking, make some decisions. They’re sick of the waffle. They are sick of the delay. They just want this bloke to do his job.

JOURNALIST: What’s the merit of your party’s proposal to increase fines for multinationals who don’t pay their fair share of tax?

CLARE: We’ve got Andrew Leigh who will make some more comments about this this morning.

JOURNALIST: Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to [inaudible] this report when the NBN was facing cost blowouts and time delays under Labor previously?

CLARE: Lets be very clear about this, Malcolm Turnbull has had the job of building the NBN for two and a half years. He’s got no one else to blame for this but himself. Remember the promises he made. I am only holding Malcolm Turnbull to account here for the promises he made.

He said he would build it for $29.5 billion, it’s blown out by up to $26 billion dollars, up to $56 billion. It’s doubled. If anybody else doubled the cost of their project, doubled their budget they would get the sack. They wouldn’t get promoted. But Malcolm Turnbull instead of getting the sack has been promoted.

He told everyone that they would all get the NBN by the end of this year. Malcolm Turnbull’s promised that everyone across the country would get the NBN by 2016. If you’re watching this on the internet and you are still buffering then blame Malcolm Turnbull because he promised you’d have the NBN this year. It’s now blown out to 2020 and what this story today shows is that they may not even make 2020. It may blow out to 2021 or 2022.

Remember, look at this – this is the Government’s rollout schedule for the NBN and this is where we are up to right now. We haven’t even hit the ramp up yet and they are behind schedule. This gives you an idea of the mess Malcolm Turnbull has made of the NBN and the mess still to come. They are not even at the ramp up and this is a ramp that Evil Knievel couldn’t jump and NBN are trying to tell us that they’re going to be able to increase construction of the NBN to this speed. They can’t even do this. Why is this happening? Because Malcolm Turnbull thought it would be a good idea to go from building a fibre network that you get in Singapore, Japan, in New Zealand, right across many parts of the world to building a second rate copper network and as a result of that bad decision we see headlines today, that this project is in crisis. Malcolm Turnbull failed as Communications Minister and he is failing as Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] rollouts too under Labor’s plan what would you have done differently?

CLARE: I make the same point again two and a half years. This bloke has had this job for two and a half years he’s broken almost every promise he made. He said he’d build it for $29 billion it’s blown out to $56billion. He said everyone would have it this year, it’s blown out to 2020. He said fibre to-the-node, this second rate technology, would cost $600 bucks a house, that’s blown out to $1,600. He said he could fix the copper for $55 million, it’s blown out by more than 1000 per cent to $641 million and where it’s being switched on it’s not working. This is an epic fail. This is a massive failure. Almost everything he promised he has broken. That’s why I say he was a failure as Communications Minister and he is failing as Prime Minister as well.

Thanks very much.