news Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has come under pressure during a radio interview in far north Queensland, with the ABC’s host relaying complaints from local residents that the Coalition had not done enough to bring the National Broadband Network to the region.
This morning the Prime Minister was interviewed on ABC Radio’s Far North Queensland broadcast by host Kier Shorey.
Shorey told Turnbull that residents in far-flung areas like Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria considered their broadband situation “stalled” at this stage, because the NBN rollout had not hit the region yet.
“It’s not a solution for them at this stage. It’s also meant that there’s been no expansion of the services by Telstra in their community. So they’ve reached that point where they naturally have to wait until late at night to send an email. Is there any short term solution for them?” Shorey asked.
Karumba is not currently on the NBN company’s rollout map.
In response, Turnbull stated that even customers in such far-flung regions could connect to the NBN.
“I’d be very happy to look in to that for them if you get me, or get [MP Warren Entsch] details of a particular customer,” the Prime Minister said.
“All of these issues are very location-specific, but can I say the satellite service which is now available – and that of course reaches everywhere in Australia that is not connected with either fixed line NBN or fixed wireless NBN – that delivers a 25 megabits per second down 5 megabits per second up service.”
“It’s obviously not as fast as you would get on a fixed line in the city, but it’s still very fast broadband and it will be available in the most remote areas in Australia. So, the whole country is covered but we have about a quarter of the premises available for a service now. In two years it will be three quarters and the roll out will be complete in 2019/20.”
Turnbull also took the chance to sink the boot into the previous Labor Government over its handling of the NBN project.
“We connected through the NBN, paying customers, activated customers, we connected more in the last month than Labor did in six years,” he said.
“What we’re doing is getting it rolled out so much more quickly and at so much less cost than would have been the cost under Labor.”
“You can’t build a National Broadband Network immediately and obviously it takes a while. When we looked at it, when we inherited this failed project from Labor, we examined it. We took a different approach, we’ve got a new board and new management and they’re taking a much more businesslike approach and they are saving 6-8 years in time, time to complete and $30 billion in cost.”
“That’s just the facts and we are, in terms of the family in Karumba, you send Warren Entsch the details and we’ll find out what the right solution is.”
A number of the statements Turnbull made with respect to Labor’s initial version of the NBN are regarded as highly contested, but appear to be part of Turnbull’s standard script for dealing with NBN questions. The Prime Minister made a number of similar statements on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, in response to similar questions.
One of the most disheartening things about an election campaign is seeing high-level politicians such as Turnbull allowed to get away with making the same blanket statement about policies, time and time again, without being challenged on those statements.
It would have been interesting, for example, if the ABC presenter, Kier Shorey, had been properly briefed and was aware that the NBN satellite that Turnbull mentioned was a piece of infrastructure the Prime Minister opposed being built.
But that is the problem with generalist journalists — they don’t have the deep domain experience to ask the right questions in a situation like this :(
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting