Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP

Previous Parliamentary Secretary
to the Minister for Communications

Transcript of the Hon Paul Fletcher MP on 2GB Sydney Live

12 December 2013

Paul Fletcher MP
Federal Member for Bradfield
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications

LUKE GRANT:

The Abbott Government has released its review of the controversial National Broadband Network. The issue is complex. Well no doubt, but one thing is clear, it costs lots of money. And the Coalition is now saying the plan it took to the election is going to cost I think around $11.5 billion more and will take longer to implement. And of course the Government are now having a field day saying they've broken a promise. Let's find out what the latest is. Paul Fletcher's on the line, he's a Parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Communication. G'day Paul.

PAUL FLETCHER:

G'day Luke.

LUKE GRANT:

Nice to talk to you. So, what have we got here? It'll take longer to get it out there and will cost more. I've got to say as a taxpayer no surprises there.

PAUL FLETCHER:

Well what we've discovered is that the position at NBN was even worse than the previous Labor Government let on. They claimed that the network was going to be built for $44 billion. The Strategic Review, which has been published today, finds its going to cost $73 billion if we stick with the current plan. And this is a review prepared by the company under the new executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski, a former chief executive of Telstra. And it's done a very detailed analysis. It also finds that Labor's rollout was already at least two years behind schedule, then it was in fact not going to be completed until 2024.

LUKE GRANT:

Did the Government know that - or, the former Government - when they went to the election?

PAUL FLETCHER:

All the evidence suggests that they did know this. Indeed there was a draft corporate plan that had been received by the then Minister. Which he simply left on his desk, never made public. And so what we were determined to do when we came to power was to have a very detailed comprehensive review, comprehensive look at the facts. One of the other things we found was that if the financial target that Labor said was going to be met of 7 per cent return, if that was going to be achieved you would have to drive up the prices charged to consumers. Indeed the Strategic Review contains an estimate that the cost - that would add an extra $43 a month to a typical household's broadband bill.

LUKE GRANT:

Wow. What in effect does that mean in relation to what you're installing? I'm suspecting will have slightly slower speeds and will take a bit longer to roll out obviously.

PAUL FLETCHER:

Well what the Strategic Review has now recommended to the Government is an option they call the multi-technology mix. So they're proposing that the network should be built out with a mix of fibre to the premises and fibre to the node which is what we'd always proposed; a mix of those two. And they've also suggested using the so-called HFC networks. These are the cable networks.

LUKE GRANT:

But that makes perfect sense doesn't it Paul? It's there now.

PAUL FLETCHER:

Exactly. And Labor's proposal was so wasteful because they were going to pay Telstra and Optus huge amounts of money and then shut down those two networks. Interestingly, the review has looked around the world to see what technologies have been used in Europe and the US and other countries and they've found fibre to the node and cable is taking up an increasing proportion of what's being rolled out because it's more cost-effective.

LUKE GRANT:

Understandably so. Sorry to keep you waiting so long Paul, appreciate your time.

ENDS

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