SUBJECTS: NBN, Health Reform


STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, TERRITORIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Good morning. What Australians want from Malcolm Turnbull today, more than anything, is a bit of humility. An apology for why he has got their NBN services so wrong. What they don’t need is another lecture from the Prime Minister about why every decision he has taken is right. What they want is an apology for why their phone services aren’t working. Why their internet services aren’t working.

On Four Corners last night, we saw the whole story. We saw why poor technology, poorly installed, dysfunctional market arrangements and the lack of an industry watchdog is leaving customers in the dark. Their phone services aren’t working, their internet services aren’t working.

I also want to deal with this issue that Mr Turnbull put out there yesterday that somehow we didn’t need the NBN project. I want you to think about this – each month this year, Australians are now downloading 1 million terabytes of data. Now that is in excess of 500 million hours of hi-density video. If Malcolm Turnbull thinks that our existing copper network is fit for purpose, just understand this – every two years, our data download is doubling. It is 1 million terabytes per month today; in two years’ time we know it is going to be 2 million terabytes of data. Our existing system is not working.

For Turnbull to say we didn’t need the NBN, he has got it absolutely wrong. We know if we want to compete in our region, let alone around the world; we need a fast, reliable hi-speed broadband at prices that Australian businesses and households can afford. Mr Turnbull promised something which would be faster, better and cheaper and he has failed on each and every one of those objectives.

What Australians want today is not a lecture from Mr Turnbull, they want some humility.

JOURNALIST: The Productivity Commission is going to put out a report today on the health system. We know that it is going to say that overhauling the system could be worth $10 billion a year over the next two decades, are health reforms something that Labor has the stomach for?

JONES: Labor took to the last election a raft of proposals around reforming the health system. We promised to set up a national health commission which would be an ongoing, rolling process for reform in the health system.

JOURNALIST: Would it save money though?

JONES: What we wouldn’t do, is what the Turnbull and Abbott Governments did and promise one thing before an election and then deliver something very, very different after an election. We wouldn’t go to war with the States, we wouldn’t tear up the health and hospital agreements, we wouldn’t go to war with General Practitioners and we wouldn’t cut Medicare rebates for patients. We would work collaboratively with the States and with the professional organisations to ensure that we got the sort of health and hospital reforms that Australia needs.

JOURNALIST: But would you be open to efficiencies that the Productivity Commission recommends?

JONES: We took to the last election a raft of efficiencies. Labor, in Government, saw some of the biggest savings ever achieved in the PBS. For example, in fact the pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies were very, very critical of the billions of dollars’ worth of savings that Labor put in place in the PBS. We’ve got the stomach for reform but it’s got to be reform which delivers better health outcomes for Australians.