We shouldn't be spending $50 bil on the NBN to see services going backwards - Stephen Jones MP

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (15:34): Mr Deputy Speaker, it takes a certain kind of genius, doesn't it, to spend $50 billion on an infrastructure project which is supposed to improve communications in this country, only to see speeds go down and prices go up? This is the stuff that those guys over there say is all going very, very well: $50 billion to see speeds go down and prices go up. That's the experience of Australians right around the country. In fact, from Longman to Logan, from Rankin to Capricornia, right around the country, people are saying the very same thing: 'Do not let these guys near the NBN. They have stuffed up everything they've touched.' The minister was given 10 minutes to explain how they are going to fix this mess. And what was their killer point? What was their killer point? Labor didn't finish the NBN project on the same day that it started it! We didn't finish it on the same day that we started it. That's their killer point. If that is all they've got to defend themselves, Australia is in a world of pain and trouble.

We have got a project that is failing from beginning to end, with connections failing and bad technology. The CEO of the NBN has himself conceded that they stuff it up one in 10 times. One in 10 times, they are stuffing it up. Can you imagine running a hamburger store where one in 10 customers come back with food poisoning? You'd be run out of business pretty quickly. But they think, and this government thinks, that, if you stuff it up one in 10 times, things are going all right. If you want to see the blood drain from government members' faces as quick as anything, just look at them when the Prime Minister says, 'We've got it; it's all going okay,' because they know themselves it's not going okay. They know that there are big problems.

Businesses are losing thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. I see the member for Capricornia in the chamber today, and I'm glad she is. Perhaps she'll have something to say to defend the small businesses in her electorate which are losing thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars because of the failed NBN project in Central Queensland. And it doesn't stop there in Rockhampton and right throughout Central Queensland. Up and down the coast, small businesses and premises are saying the very same thing. They need a champion in seats like that who say they are going to do something about the NBN project, instead of these apologists over there who simply haven't got the answer.

Tomorrow the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is going to release a report, and it is not going to be good news for you mob over there. It is not going to be good news for that mob over there, because, in the last report we saw, there was a 53.6 per cent increase in the complaints about broadband. I guarantee you the jump tomorrow is going to be even greater than that. Those members opposite might think that's okay. But I just want to leave you with one fact: the telecommunications industry receives over 112,000 complaints a year. That is four times—four times—the number of complaints that the finance and banking industry receives, and you all know what the feeling out there in the electorate is about a royal commission into the banking and finance industry. Why do you think that 'business as usual' is going to be okay? The mob are coming after you. You're doing nothing about it, and they're coming after you.

We've got the ideas for reform. We know what we've got to do. This mob over here have got to improve the rollout and ensure the Australian people are getting the best technology available. We need a tough cop on the beat to ensure that people aren't involved in the NBN ping-pong that you guys are involved in—apologising and blaming but not taking responsibility for anything. We need a tough cop on the beat and we need a set of laws that provide people with the guarantees and the regulations for a decent broadband service, not the outdated system that we have in place at the moment.

So I challenge all those members opposite: do the right thing, get behind your own constituencies and demand a decent broadband service for rural and regional Australia and right around the country, instead of apologising for the rank failure that your NBN project has been. We shouldn't be spending $50 billion on this project to see services go backwards.

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