Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network has delivered a damning verdict on the Turnbull Government’s NBN project.
The JSC, which is the principal oversight committee for the $50 billion project, has issued 23 hard-hitting recommendations to improve the project.
The highly critical, non-Government members’ majority report represents a consensus view across Labor, Independent MP for Indi, Cath McGowan, Nick Xenophon Senator, Stirling Griff, the Greens and One Nation’s Pauline Hanson.
The report identifies a crisis of confidence in the NBN project due to systemic issues of faults, failed connections, reliability and chronic speed issues across the network.
Billions have being spent but many customers told the committee their service has gone backwards.
Many of the issues raised with the committee were entirely predictable given the flawed technology choices and the disinterest shown by the Turnbull Government in the lived experience of consumers.
The Committee has identified 23 recommendations to help improve customer service, technology choices and transparency including:
- The Government direct and enable nbn to complete as much as possible of the remaining fixed line network using FTTC at a minimum (or FTTP), and require nbn to produce a costed plan and timetable under which that would be achieved.
- The urgent need for new consumer and supplier rights which provide protections, wholesale service-levels and remedies for service failures
- The introduction of a new business grade product specifically geared towards small business
- An overhaul of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman to give it more power and ability to resolve consumer disputes
- The Government should ensure that digital inclusion is measured and reported
It's disappointing that government members have not supported these recommendations which will deliver better outcomes for consumers and clearly reflect the evidence received from over 12 months of hearings.
The fact remains that Australia can’t afford to keep spending billions on an NBN that is not delivering.