MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
6PR PERTH LIVE
WEDNESDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECT: Government’s NBN backflip.
OLIVER PETERSON, HOST: On the line, the Shadow Communications Minister, Michelle Rowland. Good afternoon.
MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Good afternoon.
PETERSON: What do you make of the Government’s plans now to spend another $4.5 billion upgrading the NBN?
ROWLAND: Well, this would have to be the most extraordinary, humiliating and expensive public policy backflip in a generation. Let’s remember that they have already spent $51 billion building a second-rate network. They want to spend billions more overbuilding its copper footprint and the delivery of that overbuild is two to three years away at least. So, no matter how the Government and no matter how this embattled Communications Minister tries to spin it, this has been a complete waste of the last seven years. It has been a complete waste for all those small businesses, consumers, and also let’s remember quite a lot of young people who have been relying on the internet around Australia for remote schooling. A complete waste. One thing you can’t get back is time. Seven years of waste, while within our region and around the world, other economies have moved on, have utilised the power of digitisation to improve productivity. Australia has slipped from 30th in the world in broadband rankings when the Liberals took over. We are now 62nd in the world! It just shows how far we have slipped on their watch.
PETERSON: So, if we go back even 10 years, Michelle Rowland. This was a promise made by the then Liberal leader Tony Abbott who said it was his mission to demolish Labor’s NBN. Had the Liberal Party stuck with Labor’s plan 10 years ago, would we already have delivered what the Government is now promising in another three years’ time?
ROWLAND: Well, not only that. This Government has spent taxpayers’ money purchasing 50,000km of new copper. That’s enough to wrap around the Planet Earth. And now they want to overbuild that? They said they would deliver their network cheaper than Labor would. They said it would cost $29 billion – that blew out by $25 billion and even more today – and they said they would be finished by 2016. So, on every call, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott and this hapless Communications Minister Paul Fletcher have gotten it wrong.
PETERSON: It’s going to create 25,000 jobs. That’s a pretty good headline, you’d have to admit Michelle?
ROWLAND: Well, who knew that powering up your economy and having high speed broadband and a nation building project would actually be good for the country? Where did I hear this before? Some 10 years or so ago when Labor’s original plan was announced. It was pilloried for a decade by successive Liberal entities. All of a sudden, they’ve had this epiphany. They’re trying to frame this as a visionary jobs driver. So, you can be forgiven for saying “really, are you kidding me?”. They’re now trying to sell this as their visionary statement about how they’re going to fibre up Australia. Quite frankly, I don’t think the vast majority of Australians are going to accept the arguments they’re making here. We do need to have an economy that is based on the highest quality broadband. But again, that’s still years away and billions of dollars away. We will be interrogating very closely the detail in the latest Corporate Plan that’s been released because it’s quite clear, even from a cursory review, that this is a cover up for unfunded promises and cost blowouts.
PETERSON: Michelle Rowland, thank you for your time.