news The Opposition today said the Multi-Technology Mix plan which Malcolm Turnbull imposed on the National Broadband Network project was “in crisis”, following revelations published over the weekend that its Fibre to the Node centrepiece was substantially behind projections and suffering a litany of issues.
Over the weekend, the Sydney Morning Herald published an article about an internal NBN company document, entitled ‘Scale the Deployment Program: FTTx Design and Construction’. Delimiter this morning published the document in question here in PDF format. It appears to have been authored by the NBN company’s chief network engineering officer Peter Ryan.
The document notes that the NBN company had at 19 February this year only successfully completed construction of its Fibre to the Node network to some 29,005 premises — far short of its target of 94,273 for that date. The report pins much of the delays on issues with electricity companies, which appear to be having problems getting power to the neighbourhood ‘nodes’ used in a FTTN rollout.
Labor’s previous near-universal Fibre to the Premises rollout for the NBN would not have suffered the same problems, as it does not rely on electrical power to neighbourhood ‘nodes’.
In a doorstop interview outside Parliament House this morning, Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare said the report showed the MTM plan for the NBN — initiated by Malcolm Turnbull as Communications Minister — showed the plan was “in crisis”.
“Malcolm Turnbull has basically had one job for the last two and a half years and that’s to build the NBN, and he has made a shocking mess of it. Malcolm Turnbull has been a failure as Communications Minister and a failure in building the NBN,” said Clare.
“The cost of it has doubled under Malcolm Turnbull. The time it’s going to take to build to build the NBN is twice what Malcolm Turnbull promised. The cost of fixing the old copper network to make it work has blown out by a thousand per cent.”
“Where they are switching this on, in the Central Coast, in the Hunter, in Bundaberg it’s not working properly and now today this extremely damaging leak on the front page of newspapers across the country, which is only just over a week old, a confidential document from NBN Co, which reveals that they are two thirds behind in the construction rollout of their second rate fibre-to-the-node.”
“This is a massive failure. This is an epic fail. Malcolm Turnbull was a failure Communications Minister. It is proven by this story today and so far he has been a failure as Prime Minister.”
Clare said Turnbull was “fantastic at talking” — “he could talk under water with a mouth full of marbles” — but that the Prime Minister had problems making decisions.
“He can’t make decisions and when he makes decisions like going back to the old second rate copper network, it’s a shocker. We’ve got this terrible mess with the NBN.”
Clare was asked by a journalist whether it was “hypocritical” for Labor to highlight this week’s FTTN report, when the NBN had also faced cost blowouts and time delays under the previous Rudd/Gillard Labor administrations.
“Lets be very clear about this, Malcolm Turnbull has had the job of building the NBN for two and a half years,” responded Clare. “He’s got no one else to blame for this but himself. Remember the promises he made. I am only holding Malcolm Turnbull to account here for the promises he made.”
“He said he would build it for $29.5 billion, it’s blown out by up to $26 billion dollars, up to $56 billion. It’s doubled. If anybody else doubled the cost of their project, doubled their budget they would get the sack. They wouldn’t get promoted. But Malcolm Turnbull instead of getting the sack has been promoted.”
“He told everyone that they would all get the NBN by the end of this year. Malcolm Turnbull’s promised that everyone across the country would get the NBN by 2016. If you’re watching this on the internet and you are still buffering then blame Malcolm Turnbull because he promised you’d have the NBN this year. It’s now blown out to 2020 and what this story today shows is that they may not even make 2020. It may blow out to 2021 or 2022.”
In a separate statement, Clare pointed out that the power problems being experienced by the NBN company in connecting its FTTN network would not have been experienced under Labor’s FTTP model.
“The delays are due mostly to problems with connecting mains power to Malcolm Turnbull’s large street side copper cabinets,” Clare said. “These problems are entirely of Malcolm Turnbull’s making.”
“Fibre-to-the-premises – Labor’s 21st century broadband technology which was abandoned by Malcolm Turnbull so he could roll out last century’s copper technology – is a passive network that does not require mains power.”
“The documents also reveal that Malcolm Turnbull’s copper NBN is coming in over-budget, despite NBN Co’s recent assurances that the cost was tracking as expected in NBN Co’s Corporate Plan 2016.”
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield issued his own statement this morning in response to what he said were “claims” regarding the NBN in the media.
“The NBN is on track to meet its targets for the financial year, within the budget set out in the company’s corporate plan. Any suggestion to the contrary is just wrong,” said Fifield. “The company has met its targets for the past six quarters in a row. This is in stark contrast to management under Labor, when the company had barely managed to connect 50,000 users after four years.”
In contrast, Fifield said, the Coalition Government had taken a “business-like approach to managing the NBN project”.
“After two terms of Government, Labor had upgraded broadband to just 1 in 50 premises in Australia,” he said. “By the end of this year, the NBN will have upgraded 1 in 4 premises and by the end of 2018 it will have extended to 3 in 4 premises. Our changes to the rollout will see the project finished six to eight years sooner than reverting to Labor’s approach, and at around $30 billion less cost.”
Fifield said that the previous Labor Government had “failed to meet every rollout target it set itself”.
“For Labor to tell communities they would have had NBN sooner under them is simply wrong,” he said. “The NBN under Labor was one of the most poorly managed projects in the history of the Commonwealth.”
“The 2016 nbn Corporate Plan estimates that continuing with an all-fibre build to completion would require funding of between $74 billion and $84 billion, and could not be completed until at least 2026. That’s $30 billion more and six to eight years later than the current roll out.”
Fifield said Labor had indicated that it would return the NBN to its previous “extravagant FTTP disaster”, “further adding to the black hole of their unfunded policy announcements”. “Under Labor, around $6.5 billion was spent to deliver broadband to less than 3 per cent of premises,” he said.
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