MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
2GB DRIVE WITH JIM WILSON
MONDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 2021
SUBJECT: Coalition’s NBN cover-up.
JIM WILSON, HOST: Federal Labor is taking aim at the Government over the rollout of the NBN. Now we all remember that Labor’s original plan was to use a faster full fibre network but in 2013, then Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull decided to go for the cheaper mixture of fibre, copper and existing pay TV cables. At the time, Turnbull said Labor’s full fibre approach would mean wasting well over $50 billion. Well, secret figures released in the Sydney Morning Herald reveal Labor’s original plan may have cost $10 billion less than what Malcolm Turnbull claimed. On the line is Shadow Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland. Michelle, welcome back to Drive.
MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Thank you.
WILSON: Michelle, what’s your reaction to this?
ROWLAND: Well as you say, Nine newspapers today are reporting evidence that has been covered up for nearly eight years. Now that was the basis of the Liberal Government’s decision to abandon a fibre rollout of the NBN in favour of copper and other inferior technologies. As you say, it could have been $10 billion cheaper just in capital costs, but in addition to that, there could have been a further five to six billion dollars saved in interest. So, that’s $15 billion alone!
WILSON: If the Coalition had stuck with Labor’s original policy, Michelle, do you think we would have a faster and more reliable NBN today?
ROWLAND: Absolutely. It would have been delivered to a far greater standard. The Government has now spent some $57 billion in peak funding when the Government said it would cost $29 billion, and we are currently 61st in the world for fixed-line broadband. It’s four years late and we’ve still got something like a quarter of a million premises that can’t get minimum speeds as required by law. It’s outrageous and this cover-up that has been exposed puts to lie any notion of sound economic management under the Liberals.
WILSON: If you were in Government today, what would you do to improve the NBN’s service in Australia?
ROWLAND: The difficulty is that we are so far down a road where we now have the rollout being declared last December as being complete. We knew going into the last election with an opportunity to turn that around and fibre up some areas, and the Government has finally conceded that copper is inferior and that they are going to start rolling out fibre in some areas. The real tragedy, Jim, is that this has happened eight years late. I think Australians abhor a cover up, and they also abhor the sheer waste, not only in terms of money but also in terms of an inferior product.
WILSON: Righto Michelle, thank you for your time this afternoon.