Matters of Public Importance: NBN

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (15:44): Is this for real? Are we supposed to congratulate Prime Minister Turnbull? What are you on? Every single thing that should be happening with this project is not happening. What they are desperately trying to do is go back. It is always about looking back with the Liberal Party. It is never about looking forward. It is never about taking account, right now.

They promised us a project that would cost $29 billion. It is now going to cost $56 billion. They promised us a project that would be done and dusted by 2019. Now they are looking at getting it done by 2020. They promised us a whole lot of stuff along the way, including that they would get the agreement done with Telstra. We have seen the sheer prowess of the Prime Minister! He wants to ask questions of himself so he can answer them himself. He was going to roll out, as a result of his great commercial acumen, an agreement with Telstra just by virtue of his presence! He thought that, like a Sonny Bill hologram, those negotiations would just magically transform and he would be able to get that agreement—bam, it would all happen!

Everything is being delayed, and why is that? I heard the member for Blaxland say that maybe the member for Wentworth, now Prime Minister, has been a bit distracted. Well, he sort of has been. It is the modern version of the Howard-Peacock battle. It is now all about Abbott and Turnbull. In fact, it is so good that, when Malcolm Turnbull types in 'Tony Abbott' in Google, Google asks, 'Do you mean 'revenge'?' That is all he has been focused on lately, instead of actually getting the job of rolling out the network done. It has been held up.

Those opposite operate in the belief that everything about fibre to the premises is bad and that it should not have been done. But what did Malcolm Turnbull, now the Prime Minister, first invest in? He invested in fibre networks. When he had a choice to make investments in projects in Europe, he thought, 'I'm going to make money on a smart investment. When people roll out fibre networks, I'll support that.' His own investments show what he has supported and the telcos that he has invested in in times past. But he was forced by the previous Prime Minister to embrace the notions that everything about the NBN was bad and that they would have their own alternative model. The only problem is their alternative model is nothing that Australia wants or, importantly, needs. The commercial acumen of those opposite is again on full display. When talking about fibre and what we might be able to do in getting that out to premises, what did they do? Their great commercial plan, like someone who had just been fooled by one of the best car salesmen on the planet, was that, instead of rolling out fibre, they said, 'You know what we're going to do? We're going to buy back the copper network that John Howard sold off.' That is great! That is fantastic planning! What great acumen they have!

I also see the Prime Minister and many of those opposite channelling the Deputy Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister likes going around putting ribbons on himself for projects that we started and funded, and he says, 'Look, I did it!' By virtue of the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister turns up somewhere, pulls the sash out and then cuts it, he says, 'There you go; I built it!'

It is similar to the satellites that they are about to launch, which Labor commissioned when we were in government. They came nowhere near to actually making the decision on it, but they are out there with their little toy rockets, looking forward to those satellites going up and being able to claim it was them. They will say, 'It was all us. We put those satellites up there.' The fact of the matter is it was Labor. We put everything in place. It was a huge project. The biggest infrastructure project since the Snowy Mountains Scheme itself had to be put in place. Those in the know on their side realised that fibre networks, by their very nature, take a long period of time to get up and running and in place. It was always going to take time to get that moving. What has happened is that everything has been messed up by those opposite. They have slowed everything down with review after review and political line after political line. There is no fibre, no service and no solution to the things that Australians want and need in this country.

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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