news Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has labelled a pledge by Bill Shorten to bring a “greater role” for Fibre to the Premises technology in the NBN as “flaky”, saying the Opposition Leader did not specify exactly what the promise would cost and what it meant.
Speaking to reporters in Gosford, Shorten this week said Labor would make sure that there would be a “greater role” for Fibre to the Premises technology in the National Broadband Network if it won the upcoming Federal Election. However, the Opposition Leader also intimated Labor wouldn’t be able to reverse the changes Malcolm Turnbull has made to the project.
“We believe fundamentally there should be a greater role for fibre to the premises as opposed to just the second-rate fibre-to-the-node,” Shorten said. “What we won’t do is pretend you can start everything again and we’ll look at what the Turnbull Government’s done and see how we can improve upon that.”
In a statement responding to Shorten’s words, Fifield said Shorten had “stumbled” as he tried to explain Labor’s rival NBN vision.
“Labor needs to release its NBN policy and reveal what its flaky “more fibre” promise actually means and costs,” the Liberal Senator said. “Based on the NBN Corporate Plan, reverting to an all-fibre build to completion would cost around $30 billion more and take six to eight years longer than the current NBN rollout.”
Fifield said that under Labor, the NBN company had missed “every single rollout target” and that by the time the Coalition took power in 2013, the NBN was one million premises short of its 2010 rollout forecast.
“After three years of construction work, the rollout was already two years behind,” Fifield said. “Labor spent $6 billion to reach less than 3 percent of premises.”
“In comparison, NBN has connected more than 50,000 users in the last six weeks. It took Labor three years to connect 51,000 premises (2010-2013). As of 3 March 2016 there have been 1.86 million premises passed by the NBN and more than 851,000 active connections.”
Fifield pointed out that Labor’s pledge to bring more FTTP to the NBN had led the Financial Review newspaper to state:
“A lack of detail bedevilled the NBN under Labor. The fact the party doesn’t want to give any details about its new plan – or more accurately, a reinstatement of the old NBN – or talk about the cost, makes this policy look like the last – an expensive joke.”
“After two years in Opposition, Bill Shorten clearly hasn’t learnt any lessons from his time as a Minister in the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government,” said Fifield.
Image credit: Office of Mitch Fifield