SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull’s NBN failures.
MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: The Australian people are rejecting Malcolm Turnbull's copper NBN en masse. This person was a failure of a Communications Minister just as he is now a failure as a Prime Minister. Today's NBN Corporate Plan confirms three things. Firstly, Malcolm Turnbull's broken promises. He promised Australians that he would deliver an NBN for around $29 billion. That has now blown out to around $50 billion. And he promised it would be delivered by the end of 2016, leaving some 7 million premises at that time waiting. Secondly, the Corporate Plan shows that NBN is bunkering down on copper. Rather than scaling up fibre wherever possible, it has chosen to go down a copper path. Labor calls on the government to reject the NBN Corporate Plan and to maximise the use of fibre wherever feasible, including by taking it as deep as possible into the network with Fibre to the Kerb, thereby maximising at least the amount of fibre that is used and minimising the amount of copper. And thirdly, in this whole sorry episode, consumers barely rate a mention. Their frustration and anger is palpable - from Bundaberg to the Blue Mountains, small businesses who are not able to conduct their business properly because they do not have adequate broadband connections, to students who are disadvantaged because they can't study properly. People who have simply been left behind because of Malcolm Turnbull's broken promises.
QUESTION: What do you say to reports that consumers are rejecting the current Fibre to the Node model and opting for upgrades to Fibre to the Premises?
ROWLAND: There has been a ten-fold increase in consumers seeking to upgrade from copper to fibre. Malcolm Turnbull promised that this would cost around $3,000. The reality is that it is costing an average of $15,000 to upgrade. And this shows how much consumers are rejecting the flawed second-rate NBN that he has offered. We have even had reports of some consumers being quoted around $150,000 to have a fibre rather than a copper connection. This shows how much Australians are prepared to reject Malcolm Turnbull's flawed copper network.
QUESTION: What experiences have consumers been raising and what sort of remedies are being offered to them?
ROWLAND: Consumers are complaining about everything from slow speeds, and in particular not getting the speeds to which they are contractually entitled. The incidence of dropouts are also very prevalent, but what seems to frustrate consumers most of all in the consultations Labor has been conducting is the fact that they are being punted between the NBN and their retail service provider when something goes wrong. This level of buck-passing is not improving. It is becoming a significant source of complaint and even as Choice has documented, NBN users are now complaining around 70 per cent of the time with respect to their NBN services. This is simply unacceptable and this government is offering nothing but spin and broken promises.
QUESTION: What has been your focus on the NBN in Queensland over the last couple of days?
ROWLAND: We've been holding forums with local communities about their NBN experiences and taking their feedback on how they would like to see the NBN improved. It's very clear that the level of frustration with Malcolm Turnbull's NBN is having a most detrimental impact on people's lives. It is causing people to actually consider moving from where they live or where they conduct their businesses, and this should simply not be happening in Queensland in 2017. There is also a high level of understanding that poor broadband under this flawed Turnbull NBN is holding Queensland back. We know that in 2013 Australia rated 30th in the world for internet speeds. That fell to 60th under Malcolm Turnbull. It is simply not acceptable to have a Queensland, or Australian, economy in which we have second-rate broadband compared to the neighbours in our region. In a globalised economy, and a globalised job market, this is leaving Queensland and the rest of Australia behind.