Cleaning up Labor’s NBN mess on the Central Coast

Thursday, 11 February 2016

I am really pleased to speak to this MPI today because it clearly exposes the fact that the only second-rate NBN in Australia was the one that was going to be delivered by Labor, the party who when in Government promised one thing but then delivered little more than press releases and promises that stretched into the never-never for years.

It is no exaggeration to say that under the previous Labor Government the NBN was one of the most poorly managed projects in the history of the Commonwealth. When they announced it with great fanfare, then Prime Minister Rudd and Minister Conroy extravagantly promised that the rollout would be complete by 2018 and would cost the government no more than $26 billion. Of course Labor representatives in my electorate on the Central Coast did the same.

In April 2013, former Labor MP Deborah O'Neill and Minister Conroy came to Gosford and pushed a big red button on the Gosford waterfront, claiming our region was open for business thanks to the NBN.

In fact, the then member for Robertson said: 'We love this town and we love where we live, but we need jobs and need something to transform this area. It's time to come to Gosford and do some business.'

Well it is time to come to Gosford and do business, so it is pretty ironic to see Senator O'Neill now actively campaigning against the Turnbull Government's commitment to deliver 600 new federal jobs to Gosford, but I digress.

Labor claimed that their NBN was a magic bullet, but when the gloss of the press release and the shiny red button wore off, it was a mess—it was a mess around Australia and a mess on the Central Coast. For instance, despite Labor's claims on the coast that a massive 90 per cent of premises in and around Gosford were so-called open for business with the NBN when in actual fact 90 per cent of them were classified service class 0 or service class 1, meaning that, despite the fanfare and the press release, a lot of work was required before those people who wanted a service could actually connect. What is even worse, despite all of this fanfare during the election and during their time in Government, when we came into Government there were little more than 200 premises connected in my electorate.

What a farce—to tell businesses and families that Gosford was 'open for business', only to discover that, despite Labor's press releases, they could not actually access it at their premise. In fact, Labor were so obsessed with delivering fibre to the press release in Gosford that they forgot that the focus in unlocking superfast broadband is supposed to be about actually getting residents, businesses and families connected. Labor sold people in my electorate a dud deal. In contrast, this Coalition Government has spent more than two years cleaning up the mess in my electorate and across Australia. We have sought to clean up the mess left to us by those opposite home by home and piece by piece while, at the same time, rolling out the NBN to more homes and businesses sooner, cheaper and much more reliably than Labor.

This Government has a responsible strategy to roll out a more affordable multi-technology mix. The case for the multi-technology approach is clear. It is far better for productivity on the Central Coast, for instance, to get fast broadband to premises quickly, than to deliver extremely fast broadband to just an exclusive few years and years down the track.

It is like waiting for Godot!

You can see the benefits of the Turnbull Government's approach in the NBN's latest half-yearly results. They reveal initial customer research showing the level of satisfaction with broadband services delivered through the fibre-to-the-node technology is the same for those using the gold-plated fibre to the premise. I grant you that our approach involves far less fanfare than that of members opposite. But the half-yearly results are a ringing endorsement of our approach. In fact, the NBN rollout is accelerating, with 1.7 million homes and businesses now able to order a connection. We are finally back on track with the NBN rollout, with plans to expand the footprint by 15,000 premises per week, rising to 25,000 per week by the middle of the year. Ultimately, of course, the goal is to connect eight million premises by 2020 across all access technologies.

But let me spend the few remaining seconds I have letting members opposite know about the record that we have delivered to my electorate in just two short years.

In my electorate we now have more than 67,000 premises on the rollout schedule or already connected.

Around half of these are only weeks away from being 'ready for service'—not simply passed but ready for service—in more than 20 suburbs, like Woy Woy, Empire Bay, Pearl Beach, Saratoga and Tascott.

Making things happen for Robertson

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