Compensation of consumers on Malcolm Turnbull’s copper NBN; Citizenship.




SUBJECTS: Compensation of consumers on Malcolm Turnbull’s copper NBN; Citizenship.

MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Today we have the latest damning indictment of Malcolm Turnbull's second-rate copper NBN. 42,000 Telstra customers have been compensated because they have not obtained a service that they were paying for. Over half of those customers who signed up for 100 Mbps plans are now being compensated because Malcolm Turnbull's second-rate copper network could not deliver this service they paid for. This is only the tip of Malcolm Turnbull's copper iceberg. This was supposed to be the year of the customer according the government about the National Broadband Network. Instead, it has turned into a year of the customer complaint. We have had a 160% increase in consumer complaints about the NBN. These latest revelations, of 42,000 customers being compensated, again shows that this government has no care when it comes to Australian consumers and that Malcolm Turnbull's second-rate copper NBN is letting Australians down. I'll ask my colleague Stephen Jones, who is our Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, to give some comments.

STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS: Thank you very much Michelle. Well, today we've got 42,000 reasons for Malcolm Turnbull to apologise for the dud that he’s forced upon Australian consumers. It's time for Malcolm Turnbull to admit that his copper-based NBN just isn’t working. There's clearly demand for faster broadband services, people are willing to pay for them as long as they're getting the service that they've actually paid for. Nowhere is the problem greater than in Regional Australia. From Townsville to Maryborough, from Dapto right across the country to Western Australia, we've got people crying out for a better service and they're simply not getting it. 42,000 people in Telstra alone. Telstra's half the market, we know the other phone companies have got a similar problem but they are yet to step up and own that the real blame should turn to the government. He was the one who said he could deliver a faster, better, more affordable broadband service on his copper model and he's been proven wrong on each and every one of those.  

JOURNALIST: Isn't this about today's news about Telstra being dishonest?

ROWLAND: This is about Malcolm Turnbull's copper network actually failing to be capable of delivering services. And the ACCC itself has pointed out that this copper network is not fit for purpose when it comes to those consumers. We are pleased that Telstra is taking this action but the underlying problem here is the inadequate network that Malcolm Turnbull has constructed, relying on copper as a delivery mechanism. Every one of those customers is being delivered through his second-rate copper network.

JOURNALIST: What Sims said is today should be the end of finger-pointing over the NBN. That doesn't seem to be the case though?

ROWLAND: I think it's very important that consumers have transparency and accountability. I think it's incredibly important that this government recognises that consumers are being left behind. They are who we should be focusing on here and consumers understand that with a rollout of this scale you are going to have some issues but what they don't accept is when that when they pay for a product or a service and they simply don't get it. And that's happened in over half of cases in this particular instance and that's simply unacceptable. 

JOURNALIST: So you actually have some sympathy then for Telstra and the retailers? They're trying to sell a dud?

ROWLAND: We recognise that the copper network is not fit for purpose. Telstra itself has recognised and identified that these consumers are not getting the service they pay for. I congratulate Telstra on doing the right thing. I also look forward to any other service providers actually offering the same level of compensation and the same level of transparency. But let's be clear: it's simply not good enough that we have this situation going on. This should never have happened in the first place, where 42,000 consumers are now being compensated and this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to consumer complaints. 

JOURNALIST: Just on another point. Will Labor support Justine Keay's referral to the High Court so that the court can determine whether or not renunciating her citizenship before the nomination date constitutes a reasonable step?

ROWLAND: Labor has very strict vetting processes for all its candidates and all Members were part of that. Labor is confident that all its processes have been undertake in a way that ensures that all our current Members are eligible.

JOURNALIST: But Labor's lawyers aren't the High Court. Are you saying that Labor would oppose any referral?      

ROWLAND: We have received advice on these matters and we have strictly vetted all of our MPs and we are confident in the bona fides of each and every one of them. 

JONES: Let me just say on Justine, all the information that's been broadcast over the last 24 hours is old news. Justine came out and spoke about her own circumstances in May this year. She made it quite clear that before her nomination was made, she took all reasonable steps available to her to recede any trace of UK citizenship. She's done the right thing by the law, done the right thing by the constitution and the fact that Liberal Party Members are out there today putting this story around are basically trying to provide a bit of smokescreen for their own problems.

JOURNALIST: If the party processes are so good though, why didn't the processes ensure she received the renunciation before the election?

JONES: Well Justine, as soon as she was preselected, ensured that she went through all the processes that are necessary under the law to ensure she didn't have a problem under Section 44. 

JOURNALIST: Is it fair for John Alexander's case to be referred to the High Court when you won't refer one of your own MPs? Isn't it hypercritical?

JONES: Can I just say, in John Alexander's case were saying that it's up to him to bring the evidence forward before the Parliament. Bill Shorten, on Friday last week, put forward a process which would deal with all of those and he was roundly criticised by the Prime Minister when he did that. Have all of the Members of Parliament made a declaration in a standard form, so that if there are issues then it's available not only to the Parliament but to the public at large and then we can see whether there is a need for any further referrals to the court. That is a clear and transparent process and Malcolm Turnbull, it seems like every day that he stands up he's got a new proposal about how to deal with his own shemozzle.