Mar 21, 2007

Questions without notice – Broadband (2)


21 March 2007

Mr ALBANESE (3.11 p.m.)—My question is to the Prime Minister, and it follows my question yesterday about the $50 million Metropolitan Broadband Connect program. I refer the Prime Minister to his written answer provided to my office during question time which indicated that of the $4.1 million expended from the $50 million program—that is, less than 10 per cent of the program had been expended—$1.3 million was spent on administration and confirmed that the program has now ended and the money transferred. Doesn’t this failure to implement this promise from the government reflect the government’s complacent, backward-looking failure when it comes to actually delivering high-speed broadband?

The SPEAKER—I think that is almost a question of opinion, but I will call the Prime Minister.

Mr HOWARD—The answer is no. The letter that I wrote to the member pointed out that registrations for the Metropolitan Broadband Connect program commenced on 8 March last year with the release of the program’s guidelines. Service providers had until 1 January 2007 to register with the program. The funding of $1.3 million related to the development of guidelines, mapping and scoping of the program. This expenditure was budgeted. It was entirely consistent with a program of this nature and has formed the basis for the seamless integration into the new Australian Broadband Guarantee. It is not right of the member to use the word ‘ended’ in relation to this program. It has been rolled into the Australian Broadband Guarantee program and, as often occurs, the member for Grayndler is misrepresenting the situation.

Mr Albanese—Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table the Prime Minister’s letter.

Leave granted.