Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (15:31): In question time today we saw the Prime Minister, in his amateur theatrical mode, make a huge song and dance about the government's great successes in rolling out the National Broadband Network. Well, right around the country you could hear people switching off their television sets, because there is a huge gap between what the Prime Minister thinks is reality when it comes to the rollout of the NBN and the lived reality of people in their homes right around the country.
For a bloke who is alleged to have invented the internet, he is doing a very good job at stuffing up the rollout of the NBN. He promised us, before the last election, that he was going to deliver the NBN and it was going to be faster, it was going to be cheaper and it was going to be delivered to our homes sooner. In fact, he promised us that the NBN was going to be rolled out to every premises in Australia. When?
Ms Rowland: By the end of this year.
Mr STEPHEN JONES: Before the end of this year. Now, I am looking at you, Deputy Speaker Coulton, and I am pretty sure that is has not been rolled out to your house. It has not been rolled out to mine and I am sure that, all of the people that are listening to this today, the vast majority of them are yet to see an NBN truck roll down their street. So much for doing it faster.
Let us look at the other claims that he made. He claimed that he was able to deliver faster broadband and every household was going to be getting 25 megabits per second. I know, as a matter of fact, that in those places around the country—and in the vast majority of those places around the country that have got the NBN connected by the Prime Minister's second-rate fibre-to-the-node model—they are getting nothing like 25 megabits per second. They will be lucky if they are getting that in the middle of the night when no-one else is in the suburb or no-one is doing any homework or no-one is doing any business.
He promised that he was going to do it cheaper. Let us have a look at that. His first big promise—and he is big on making big promises and big on making the grand statement—was that he was going to be able to deliver it for $29.5 billion, and that was in 2013. He made the promise of $29.5 billion in April 2013. By December 2013, that cost had blown out to $41 billion. It would be bad enough if it stopped there, but before we got to the last election the total cost of this second-rate NBN was going to be $56 billion. You have to have got to ask yourself: how does a guy who is supposed to have the business acumen that the Prime Minister prides himself on manage to see a blowout of this proportion? There are lots of places that you can look, but the one that really bells the cat, the one that shines a light on why this guy has stuffed it up so much, is if you look what he has done with the copper network.
I have gone around the country and visited many of the regional towns throughout Australia during the last election, from Cairns and Townsville in the north, down to Hobart and Launceston in the south, right throughout regional New South Wales—I had the pleasure of visiting your electorate, Deputy Speaker—and out through Adelaide and Victoria as well. It was not unusual that when I visited a town and I talked to people about the state of the network to be shown pictures that look like this—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Coulton ): I will remind the member for Whitlam about the use props.
Mr STEPHEN JONES: The picture that I am unfolding and looking at is the state of the copper network. This happens to be in the Hunter Valley, but it could have been in any place throughout the country. You ask yourself why the Prime Minister and his fibre to the node is spending so much on copper? It is because this is the state of the network. This is a guy who spent close to half a billion dollars on copper—last century's technology to deliver this century's National Broadband Network.
In the old days education, health and welfare were the big levers that you pulled down upon to deliver more equity in this country. In this century it is going to be broadband. It is in regional Australia where the Prime Minister and this government are failing so much. We have seen study after study showing the failure of the government to deliver basic services such as the National Broadband Network and basic infrastructure services. That is leading to growing inequality in this country, and this government has absolutely no plan to do anything about it. We have seen only last month a study from the Swinburne Institute for Social Research, which compared the digital inclusion of people living right around the country. It showed huge gaps between people living in the regions and people living in the cities. (Time expired)