Tue, 23 Nov 2021 - 10:36

Labor cannot be trusted to deliver the NBN

Labor’s NBN announcement this week is all about trying to sound different from the Morrison Government - while not actually doing much different at all.

Last year the Morrison Government announced a $4.5 billion investment in NBN, setting out the next stage in the network’s development. Eight million premises will be able to order a speed of up to one gigabit per second - that’s blazing fast broadband - by 2023.

Labor’s announcement today is nothing more than that, if in government, it will continue with the network upgrade announced by the Morrison Government last year to beyond 2023.

But the fact is, Labor cannot be trusted to deliver.

They couldn't land a second Sydney airport. They botched pink batts. They designed the NBN on the back of a napkin and spent $6 billion in 6 years connecting just 51,000 homes. 

The Coalition’s NBN track record is clear: after we inherited a train wreck project from Labor in 2013, today there are 12 million premises able to connect to the NBN, and 8.3 million already connected.

If you look back at Labor’s original 2009 design for the NBN, it involved rolling fibre all the way to every home, whether the customer actually wanted high speed broadband or not.

Labor’s plan would have cost many billions more, and taken much longer to roll out. 

In 2013 we dumped Labor’s train wreck plan and adopted a multi technology mix of fibre to the premises (FTTP), hybrid fibre coax (HFC) and fibre to the node (FTTN.)

As a result we turned around a failing project, and delivered the rollout.

When the pandemic hit in 2020 and millions of us switched overnight to working and studying from home, 98 percent of premises around Australia were able to connect to the NBN. This was key in getting Australia through the pandemic.

If we had stuck with Labor’s plan, millions fewer Australians would have been able to connect to the NBN when they needed to most. 

Labor has now run up the white flag and adopted the Coalition’s approach - you only build fibre to a premise when the customer places an order.

Of course the Coalition has never said that in 2023 we would rule a line in the sand and no longer upgrade the network. 

But unlike Labor we have made it very clear how our upgrades will be funded. The $4.5 billion we committed will be raised, in full, from private investors in the debt markets. There is no additional taxpayer spending required and the Coalition is already reducing the NBN’s loan from the Commonwealth with more than $11 billion already repaid to taxpayers.

By contrast, Labor cannot explain how its investment will be funded – instead offering murky comments referring to a “combination” of funding sources. This is clearly code for hitting taxpayers with another bill. 

Labor is also trying to claim there is some difference in position relating to public ownership of NBN. There is not.  

The position is clearly set out in the original Statement of Expectations issued to NBN by Labor in 2010 and in the NBN Companies Act 2011 which Labor passed when in government. There are multiple steps that have to occur before there could be any change to public ownership. Our Liberal National Government has not changed that position one iota.

Anthony Albanese says it would be premature for the public ownership of NBN to change. But he isn’t ruling it out. He’s having an each way bet as usual.

But what really matters is what Labor would do if it were in government - and there is a very clear difference between the Coalition and Labor.

Labor just cannot deliver.

Only the Coalition can be trusted to deliver an upgraded NBN.