Minister for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Minister for Communications

A/g Minister for Regional Communications

Minister for the Arts

Manager of Government Business in the Senate

Doorstop Press Gallery Parliament House Canberra

24 October 2017

E & OE

JOURNALIST:
How damaging has this negative coverage of the NBN been for the government?

FIFIELD:
I think the coverage has been very damaging for the Australian Labor Party. They left the Australian people an NBN that was a failed project. Despite six and a half billion dollars having being spent over four years only 51,000 people were connected to the NBN under Labor. We’ve turned that around. Today, NBN is available to more than half the nation. By the middle of next year, it will be 75 per cent of the nation and it will be done and dusted by 2020, which is a good six to eight years sooner than would have been the case under Labor and about $30 billion less cost.

JOURNALIST:
What did you make of Kevin Rudd's staunch defence of Labor’s NBN policy?

FIFIELD:
Well look, Kevin Rudd demonstrated that he remains a fantasist. Labor came up with a plan for the NBN on the back of an envelope. And they decided that it was a good idea to charge with the task of rolling out a national broadband network, an organisation that didn’t exist, that didn’t have any staff and that had no expertise. That was Kevin Rudd’s plan. We’ve managed to salvage that situation so that Australians are now accessing the NBN years and years ahead of when they would have been able and at much less cost. Labor’s plan would have seen Australians paying internet bills of about $500 a year more courtesy of their massive expense which, as I say, would have been about $30 billion more than our plan.

JOURNALIST:
Do you have any regrets about any elements of the policy that’s been rolled out?

FIFIELD:
Look I regret that Labor left the Australian people a debacle in 2013. And I regret that the Australian Labor Party didn’t do their due diligence and didn’t look at the best approaches around the world. That didn’t occur, so it’s fallen to us to make the best of what they left the Australian people. We have got the NBN on track, our aim is to complete it by 2020 and at $30 billion less cost than Labor.

JOURNALIST:
It looks like ANZ has reached a settlement over claims of rigging interest rates for the bank bill swap rate. How difficult do you think it will be for the banks to continue to rebuild trust with Australians?

FIFIELD:
I think banks have a way to go to build trust with the Australian people. This government has done a lot to make sure the banks are under scrutiny and that the banks are held accountable.

JOURNALIST:
Thank you.

[ends]

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