Transcript – ABC Mornings

MONDAY, 13 JUNE 2016

SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to build the National Broadband Network that Australia needs to create the jobs of the future

STEVE AUSTIN: Jason Clare is the Federal Shadow Minister for Communications, Jason Clare good morning to you.  


AUSTIN: Exactly what will Labor do for NBN if elected?

CLARE:  What we will announce this morning, Bill Shorten and myself, is that if we are elected on 2 July we will rollout fibre-to-the-premises to up to two million more homes and businesses across Australia.

AUSTIN: How many in South East Queensland?

CLARE:  We are not going to announce today how much right across the different parts of Australia.  We’ll do that over the course of the next few weeks.  I can make it clear that this policy will benefit people in Brisbane, in the South East corner of Queensland and also in regional parts of Queensland as well.

A key part of this policy is stopping the rollout of Malcolm Turnbull’s copper version of the NBN as quick as we can and rolling out the fibre version of the NBN that people need so desperately. Another part of the NBN that Malcolm Turnbull is rolling out is using the Foxtel cables, the HFC cable, which you will find in parts of South East Queensland, we will keep that and use that. But in other parts of Queensland they’re getting under Malcolm Turnbull the copper version, places like Caboolture where they have already got it it’s not working properly. We’ll make it very clear today that’s not good enough, it’s not going to set us up for the future, we need to rollout more fibre.  

AUSTIN: You’ll also be announcing I think a phase two involving Infrastructure Australia, exactly what Jason Clare?

CLARE:  We will also make it clear today that we will ask the independent body Infrastructure Australia to provide advice to a future Labor Government about when and how we go back and fix those areas that have been given fibre to the node. If you go to New Zealand, you’ll find that they have already got fibre to the node and they are now going back to build a fibre to the premises network. In the United States you’ll find companies like AT&T are doing the same thing. International reports show us that Australia has gone from 30th in the world for internet speeds down to 60th over the time that Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have been running the country. That’s not good for competition or for jobs. So we need to turn that around.

AUSTIN: Why do you think that is? A number of my listeners over weeks have been reporting slower speeds when they upgrade their system and massive reliability problems. Why have dropped from 30th to 60th Jason Clare?

CLARE: Where they have switched on fibre-to-the-node, places like Bundaberg, places like Caboolture but also places in New South Wales people have been reporting that when kids get home from school in the afternoon their speeds are dropping dramatically. Sometimes slower than ADSL. You were talking just a moment ago about iPads in schools, I’ve run into families running around the country that take their kids to McDonalds every night, not for the food but for the Wi-Fi because they can’t get the speeds that they need at home for the kids to do their homework.

AUSTIN: The same thing is happening here Jason Clare but Telstra will not come on to explain some of their issues. Why is this happening? If we are in the new economy, why is this happening? Can you give any indication at all as to why that may be?

CLARE: In some places people can’t even get ADSL. They might buy a house where it’s got ADSL and then by the time they move in the ADSL port has been allocated to somebody else. And so they find that they are left to access the internet via a dongle. I met a nurse the other day who has to climb onto the roof of her house in order to download her roster with a laptop and a dongle. That’s the sort of problems we are finding right across the country.  The Prime Minister talks about creating an innovation nation, well it’s hard to have an innovation boom when you are still buffering. It’s hard to have an innovation boom with a second rate copper NBN. We need to fix that.

AUSTIN: Will the Labor Party do anything about the Universal Service Obligation for Telstra, which apparently only applies to Phone lines not to internet access?

CLARE: This is something where the Government has asked the Productivity Commission to have a look at this. I think this is an area that over the course of the next few years there needs to be a serious conversation about this. There was a time when we relied predominately on our landline but homes today rely on mobile phones and internet much more. I think it is a conversation we need to have, about how that works today and how it should work in the future.

AUSTIN: I’ll leave it there and watch the announcement with interest. Jason Clare thanks very much.

CLARE: Terrific, great to be on the program.