Matters of Public Importance - National Broadband Network

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (16:10): Mr Deputy Speaker, through you, the member for Cowper, like all the Nationals in here, is an absolute sell-out when it comes to the issue of looking after communities by providing broadband and mobile infrastructure. Yet they are saying how terrible we are for what we are doing to change and transform the network, when they are prepared to see people in rural areas pay more under their plan.

They say they will get rid of uniform pricing. They say that it is okay to charge rural and regional areas more and dismantle uniform pricing. The member for Cowper, the member for Gippsland and all those Nationals just sit there. If they win office in September, don't you think the Liberals will call all the shots at the expense of National members? They will not care one jot about your regional—

Mr Tehan interjecting—

Mr HUSIC: Don't you dare distract me, member for Wannon, by throwing NBA scores in the middle of my rant. But they know deep in their hearts that the Liberal Party will completely roll over them, especially when it comes to telecommunications.

The NBN is spearheading economic transformation in this country. It will promote what is going on right now and will accelerate it even further. What is happening now in the business world and in the broader community is people are moving from an analog world to a digital one. This has major ramifications for the way that we will operate as a country and the way our economy will transform itself. This will be off the back of these hair-thin fibres delivering data at 300,000 kilometres a second, hands down the best technology for getting data to the end point and helping our economy's future growth.

What is this going to do? It will free up the nation from capacity constraint that those opposite were unable to fix when they tried nearly 20 times but failed. As much as they will say to people that we do not do this, they tried 19 times and failed 19 times to fix broadband in this nation. It was par for the course for those opposite who, whenever it came to a capacity constraint and whenever the Reserve Bank said that their inability to deal with infrastructure in this country was creating a capacity constraint and holding back the economy, never did anything about it. We are in the process of investing to free people from the digital divide, and those people stuck in a dial-up era will be able to get superfast broadband.

I welcome the member for Lyne's comments, because he is absolutely right to say this is an investment in our economy. This will see, through an investment of just over $30 billion, the spread of economic benefit through a technology that is already delivering, according to Deloitte, $50 billion in economic value right now with $70 billion expected to be delivered in the future. It is going to see us change the way that we operate. That value can be seen in a range of areas. I am a member of the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network, which the member for Lyne chairs. We have looked at the benefits of the NBN for healthcare, education, telework and all the things that have been done through the work of rolling out the NBN. Again, this is revolutionising our economy and helping us deliver a digital economy. On top of that, in the last few weeks we released our updated National Digital Economy Strategy. We updated the strategy that was released in May last year. For example, this will see us potentially becoming one of the world-leading digital economies by 2020.

So the economic value is undoubted, but what is the challenge? The big challenge is data growth. This is a point that was touched on by the member for Lyne. The statistics for where we are headed are amazing. CSC have quoted that they expect a 4,300 per cent increase in annual data generation by 2020. That is phenomenal. The drivers of this include a switch from analog to digital technologies and a rapid increase in data generation by individuals and corporations alike.

There is always a sneaky attempt by the coalition to undermine the rationale for the NBN. The member for Wentworth did it today at the dispatch box. He talked about Netflix, video and IPTV. Talking about the NBN and being able to meet the needs of people wanting to download Netflix, movies or iTunes is their way of undermining the project. This is their way of saying that that is all the NBN is about—downloading movies and films. You have CSC saying that there will be a 4,300 per cent increase in data growth between now and 2020. They say it is being driven by a changeover from analog to digital technology, by corporations changing the way they are doing business and by the way we are living our lives. Those opposite are always looking down their noses to make it seem like the NBN is only about delivering movies and IPTV. It is more than that.

The opposition have wrestled with this for quite some time. They started on the basis that they would destroy the NBN. They then said that optic fibre would be outdated. This is a ridiculous argument. They said that this technology would be outgrown because of the pace of new technology yet they never pointed to what that might be. Then some relented and said: 'It is because of wireless. It is the rollout of mobile broadband. It is the rollout of 4G networks.' Most people know—and you can experience this in the most simple way—that if I am watching the Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium with all the other fans I cannot get onto social media and tweet something. Just try to tweet something using a mobile network in a stadium that holds 25,000 people. What do you get? Congestion, slower speeds and the inability to download. That is exactly the principle that is applied when you try to have a lot of people using a wireless network at the same time. It is incapable of dealing with demand.

Now those opposite have given up on that and they have gone to fibre to the node. At the same time they have been suggesting that this would be a much more efficient way and it will bring in a much better rate of return. I wish they would just land on one rate of return. We say that it will deliver seven per cent. They have not been able to undermine that whatsoever. The member for Wentworth said at the dispatch box that it will deliver no rate of return and then the member for Cowper said it is going to deliver three per cent. They are just plucking figures like they are plucking technologies. They are just trying to find a way to undermine this project and do not really care if it relies on fact or not. They have wrapped themselves up in copper. They think this is the way of the future, but it is a technology only ever designed to deliver voice and has limited capacity in terms of the data delivery we are going to need in the future when there has been a 4,300 percentage point increase in data.

They say no-one else is doing this. What is Google doing in Utah? What is it doing in Kansas? Google is rolling out a network that it expects to make a profit off in all these parts of the world. Verizon are doing it in five states. We have all these other people out there doing this type of rollout. They have seen what we are doing right here in places like Gungahlin, Toowoomba, Bacchus Marsh, Hobart, Gosford, Townsville and my own neighbourhood of Blacktown, where we just turned on the NBN. This is seeing communities taken out of the dial-up world into one of superfast broadband.

The opposition are all here bagging it and trashing it, but when they get off the plane or get out of their car it is a different story. They become NBN cheerleaders. You have just witnessed them bagging it. What are the member for Mitchell, the member for Flynn, the member for Farrer, the member for Hume—the Deputy Speaker has also weighed in on this—the member for McPherson, the member for Stirling, the member for Swan and the member for Leichhardt saying? We have the member for McPherson saying that it was very disappointing that the NBN was not coming her way. The member for Farrer, Susan Ley, has said:

Broken Hill's residents are disappointed, as am I, but even more so the local business community which would have benefited from higher broadband speeds isn't getting the NBN.

There is another one. I am not going to quote the Deputy Speaker, but I will quote one of his colleagues. The member for Stirling said:

Without the NBN many families and businesses will have to continue to rely on slower connection speeds.

Michael Keenan is another NBN cheerleader. They bag it here, but when they get home they know what we know: this is a great technology— (Time expired)

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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