Nov 24, 2010

Question without notice – Broadband

Mr PERRETT (2:36 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport representing the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. How is the Gillard Labor government delivering the National Broadband Network so that every Australian business and household can get the benefits of superfast broadband?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) —The National Broadband Network is, of course, the most significant single piece of nation-building infrastructure that we could possibly embark upon in order to prepare us for the needs of the 21st century. It will boost economic growth. Fact: the UN estimates that, for every 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration, we can expect a 1.3 per cent additional growth in gross domestic product. For businesses it will mean lower telephone bills and enhanced business services like high-definition video conferencing, particularly in regional Australia. Consumers will also benefit with increased competition. The OECD found that high-speed broadband provides consumers with benefits by giving them more information about pricing and more access to competition, enabling greater choice as well as putting downward pressure on prices.

It will also drive employment—25,000 jobs on average created each year because of the NBN. It will ensure that innovation stays on our shore rather than be exported overseas. It will increase workforce participation by enabling more employees to telework. More employees participating in telework puts downward pressure on urban congestion and reduces carbon emissions because people can work from home.

So right across the board this has massive benefits. The structural separation of Telstra—the way that we have designed it—will have particular benefit. Paul Budde has said of Telstra’s decision to separate:

The fact that Telstra has made this major step forward is vindication that this industry structure is not only advantageous to the social and economic benefits of our country, but that it also represents sound economics.

Those opposite took a very different approach. They took a public monopoly, turned it into a private monopoly and called it reform. They know that structural separation is absolutely vital, and that is why we are creating the NBN, a wholesale network with retail competition on top of that so that we can deliver the nation-building infrastructure that we need. Those opposite determine to wreck this nation-building reform at the same time as they say, ‘We are not really opposed to it.’ But every time they have an opportunity to vote they vote against the National Broadband Network, like they vote against all the other important infrastructure reforms of this government. I am pleased that this reform is able to proceed. The National Broadband Network is absolutely vital to Australia’s economic and social future.