Parliament House, Canberra
‘A National Tragedy.’ Not my words, but of Melbourne University’s Professor Rodney Tucker in describing Malcolm Turnbull’s failed National Broadband Network and a description that would be endorsed by many people in the great electorate of Isaacs and particularly in the suburb of Patterson Lakes.
I was recently contacted by a resident from Patterson Lakes in my electorate. This resident has for eight years been forced to access the internet through a USB dongle. Her family runs a painting and decorating business. Her son is a university student. Their last monthly internet bill for 12 gigabytes of data was $700.
In 2013 Malcolm Turnbull promised that all Australians would have access to the NBN by 2016. He said he would do this for $29.5 billion. This cost has now nearly doubled to $56 billion and in most places will use obsolete copper wiring. Patterson Lakes is not expecting an NBN rollout until at least mid-2018.
The blame for this disaster falls squarely on Malcolm Turnbull.
It was Malcolm Turnbull that dismantled Labor's plan for an NBN that would have delivered optic fibre to 93 per cent of homes and businesses, providing speeds of up to one gigabit per second on a network easily scalable to much higher speeds in the future.
It was Malcolm Turnbull that promised an NBN that was “Fast, affordable, and sooner” then failed to deliver.
When it comes to nation-building, the Liberal party cannot be trusted. From the Snowy Mountain Hydro, to Gonski needs based funding and all the way to the NBN, the only thing Malcolm Turnbull has been capable of is tacking on cheap three-word slogans or ‘2.0’ on Labor’s visionary ideas.
In the last three years Australia has plummeted from 30th in the world for internet speeds to 60th. We are now behind most of Europe. We are behind the United States and Canada and New Zealand. We are even behind Romania, Russia, Poland and Slovakia. Malcolm Turnbull’s second-rate copper NBN is holding Australia back. Our competitiveness as a nation will suffer as the Liberals continue to roll out last century’s technology, and opportunities for Australian enterprise and innovation will be lost to overseas markets – and the jobs will follow.
Just one week ago, I visited Monterey Secondary College to speak with their VCAL students about the jobs of the future. This school is 10km from Patterson Lakes. One of the main themes underlying my conversation with the students is the fact that the internet and our online interconnectedness will significantly shape the nature of employment in the future.
Malcolm Turnbull’s mismanagement is not merely a botched effort of rolling out a bunch of cables underground. He’s robbing students like the ones I spoke to of the opportunity to seize the best of what the future holds.
Only Labor will deliver on that promise.