Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Minister for Communications

Minister for the Arts

Manager of Government Business in the Senate

Sky News With David Lipson Parliament House, Canberra

16 October 2015

 Subjects: nbn three year rollout plan

LIPSON:

I'm joined now by the Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield. Thanks very much for your time. It looks like a pretty ambitious rollout plan, it is achievable?

FIFIELD:

It is achievable. nbn management and board are confident that they can achieve the full rollout of the nbn by 2020. And that they can achieve this 7.5 million premises construction over the next three years. You're right, it is ambitious but what we want to do is get the nbn out nationwide to as many homes as possible, as quickly as possible, and as affordably as possible. The big difference with what we're doing compared to our predecessors is that we are in effect technology agnostic. We want to do what will work, what will get to people sooner. The previous government, their model, was going to see the nbn take 6 to 8 years longer at a cost of $20 to $30 billion more. We've got a different approach, people will get it sooner, and this is great news.

LIPSON:

You say that nbn bosses are confident that they'll be able to roll this out in time but is it true that Bill Morrow, the boss of nbn sent out a memo to staff this week suggesting that they are already falling behind?

FIFIELD:

I don't receive nbn internal emails so I can't shed any light on that but one of the reasons why we can roll out the nbn faster than Stephen Conroy was able to is because we're pursuing a multi-technology mix approach. That means the HFC, that cable TV network, we're going to use that. The previous government weren't going to use it. It's there, we can upgrade it, and that dramatically increases the capacity of nbn to roll out fast broadband quicker to the nation.

LIPSON:

Does that use of multi-technology make it that much more difficult for Labor, for example, if they were to win government, to roll out fibre optic cable to 93 per cent of homes as they had promised to do?

FIFIELD:

Well, Jason Clare, the day before yesterday, announced that an elected Labor Government would revert to a full fibre network. Now, what he announced had every single detail you could possibly want other than: when they're going to do it, how they're going to do it, and how they're going to pay for it. So it will be interesting to see if, and when, Labor release that. But look, we know theirs was a fantasy plan, theirs was a fantasy model. It was unachievable. What we have done, and full credit to Malcolm Turnbull as the former Minister, has brought order to bear in what was unbridled chaos. What we see today is a concrete, realistic, achievable plan over the next three years to see a build for 7.5 million premises and we will have 9.5 million premises with the availability of nbn by the end of this process. Because at the moment, we've got 1.3 million premises who can access the nbn, another 700,000 under construction, add that to the 7.5 million and you've got 9.5 million – that's a great figure.

LIPSON:

Why do you use both measures? You know the promise isn't just for nbn access, it's for nbn access or construction underway by September 2018. Does that leave you a bit of leeway should it take a bit longer than expected?

FIFIELD:

That's just a recognition of what the status will be on the ground, that there will be lots of people with access but there will still be some projects which are underway. But when a project is underway, when the build is happening, it means it's just around the corner.

LIPSON:

So where can people find out when they can be connected?

FIFIELD:

They can go to a website: www.nbn.com.au/map or www.nbn.com.au/3yearplan. nbn will be releasing that localised data at 9.00 am, so that's when those websites will go live.

LIPSON:

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, great to have your company.

FIFIELD:

Thank you.

Media contact:

Evan Mulholland | 0405 140 870| Evan.mulholland@communications.gov.au

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