Access Economics Shows Why We Need Superfast Broadband Sooner and Cheaper

September 4, 2013
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TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON MALCOLM TURNBULL MP

INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL ROWLAND AND VIRGINIA TRIOLI
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST

Topics: National Broadband Network economic study, Senate ballot, Coalition carbon tax mandate
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MICHAEL ROWLAND:

We’re joined by the Opposition Communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull – he’s in Sydney this morning.  Mr Turnbull good morning.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Good morning.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Well this report suggests would be $3800 better off under the NBN.  What is wrong with that?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I think voters will be better off if they have very fast broadband and it is affordable and it is universally available.  The problem is that under Labor they’re not going to see that any time soon.  Labor’s completed less than 2 per cent of its fibre build after four years of construction.  It will take decades to complete it.  You see, if you believe there are very big economic benefits from universal, very fast broadband, then you want to get it built as quickly as possible and as affordably as possible.  And we will deliver that. 

Now this report does not speak about – does not address, in fact – the arguments for fibre-to-the-premises or fibre-to-the-node or any particular technologies.  So what it does do is serve as a reminder that there are very large economic benefits from having very fast broadband, but you have to actually get on with it.  And the problem with Labor’s policy, as you know, is that they have made and are making so little progress.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

But it is something that’s very attractive to the Labor Party of course.  It argues that its speeds using fibre are much faster than the Coalition is offer should you win Government and therefore these benefits – which include, according to Deloitte, up to $7,000  a year for older couples – are real hard to miss out on.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

But the speeds that Deloitte is referring to here are all available under our approach.  In fact I was in an apartment complex in Sydney yesterday where a private contractor has installed a fibre to the node system there where the top product that is offered is 100mbps download and 40 mbps upload which is more than capable of delivering all of the applications referred to in the Deloitte report. So the Deloitte report is not an argument in favour of fibre to the premises, it is an argument in favour of having very fast broadband. 

I agree with that – I completely endorse that.  I have a few issues with their methodology.  But I agree with the idea that everyone should have very fast broadband but they should have it now. The way Labor is going it will take decades to complete the NBN. Let’s remember this: in 2007 when Labor got in there were 2 million premises in Australia that couldn’t get broadband at all. There still are. After six years they’ve achieved nothing.

They haven’t got a plan for dealing with apartment buildings, for dealing with multi-dwelling units. They haven’t got a plan for dealing with public interest premises like hospitals and schools, office buildings. I mean look at Townsville. They’ve run fibre through the CBD of Townsville and nobody in the office buildings, which is obviously most of it, can connect to it. So this is a shambolic project. We’ll get it sorted out and we will ensure that by 2016 every Australian has access to very fast broadband so they can do all things that Deloitte is talking about here.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Now I want to get your views while you’re here Malcolm Turnbull on this debate about the Coalition’s plan to scrap the carbon tax possibly being blocked in the Senate by the Labor Party and the Greens. Do you expect if the Coalition is elected to government you’d be going back to a double dissolution election within a year?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I would expect that the Labor Party at least, perhaps not the Greens, that might be a rather extreme aspiration, but I’d certainly expect the Labor Part to respect the will of the people. If we win this election and there’s still days to go so who knows what the outcome will be, but if we do win it is as Tony Abbott has said a referendum on the carbon tax and that’s quite clear. That’s the one policy that the Coalition has been most prominently associated with for three years so I would expect Labor to respect that mandate and support the abolition of the carbon tax.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

But we have people like Mark Butler the Climate Change Minister saying on the other hand well if the Labor Party is tipped into opposition it still will have a mandate to keep fighting for both the carbon pricing and ETS scheme established under Labor.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well that’s his counter argument. I mean obviously –

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Why shouldn’t that stand?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well it depends on how you interpret the mandate. The Australian people would have voted, if they vote us into government they will have voted to repeal the carbon tax. That was our most prominent policy no one could have been any misapprehension about that. Now if Labor wants to block it and if they have got the numbers with the greens to do that, then they run the risk of having
lost of then going, having lost one election on the carbon tax, then potentially going to a double dissolution election and potentially losing another election on it.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

I just want to ask you as well about concern within the Coalition about Arthur Sinodinos a NSW Senator who as a result of all the so-called micro parties on the ballot papers could run the risk of losing his seat to none other than Pauline Hanson. Are you worried about the prospect of that unfolding on Saturday night?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I’m very worried about being confused about the Senate ballot paper, particularly here in NSW. We’ve had a lot of feedback from our workers and I’ve experienced this myself talking to voters. The Senate ballot paper has a very small party called the Liberal Democrats in the first box and the Liberal National Party – the Coalition – is at box number ‘Y’.

A lot of people have come close to – I haven’t met anyone whose said to they’ve actually made the mistake – but they’ve come very close to accidently voting for the Liberal Democrats rather than the Liberal Democrat Party Coalition. So it is really important to pay very close attention to the ballot paper and if you’re voting for the Liberal Democratic Party Coalition pay close attention to the how to vote card.

This Senate ballot paper is ridiculously complex. And I have to say I agree with the rather trenchant comments Anthony Green made on this program a little while ago which I know Virginia sort of gently scolded him for but I thought he was spot on in what he said. We definitely have to have a look at this in the future.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

It was one of Virginia’s finest interviews of the year, Malcolm Turnbull, she’s laughing alongside me. Now just before we go we have been a clip this morning of Tony Abbott’s appearance on Kitchen Cabinet tonight with Annabel Crabb. Now of course we saw you cooking up a storm with Annabel a short time ago. And in that episode he recounts some friendly advice you gave to him back in 2009 when you were still Liberal Party leader – he was in a bit of a post-2007 funk and he says you gave him some advice which essentially helped him snap out of that. Clearly where he is today, Malcolm Turnbull, it worked.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well that’s good isn’t it? I think Tony said he went into a bit of a funk as he’s described it after the ’07 election, look politics is a very tough business and people go into black moods or not so much black moods but gloomy states for periods and Tony is, as we all know, a very resilient fellow and he bounced back out of that and look where he is today. He’s the leader of the Liberal party and could very well be Prime Minister in a few days.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

He bounced back and eventually took your job, in hindsight should you have toned down that advice a bit Malcolm Turnbull?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

[Laughs] No. You know something, the object of a leader whether it’s me or Tony Abbott is to encourage your team to do it’s best not to try and whiteant people or undermine them so that they can’t be a rival to you. When Tony was down I did everything I could to encourage him to bounce back. And he did bounce back. Now I think that it had 99.9% to do with him and not much to do with me, but if I assisted in that, if I assisted in him bouncing back and getting his mojo back then that’s great. That was my duty as leader, that’s what leaders should do and leaders that just are always looking over their shoulder worrying about trying to keep anybody of talent pushed down so that they can’t be a rival that’s very poor leadership. It’s insecure leadership. It’s destructive leadership and it’s not the way I led the party and it’s not the way Tony Abbott leads the party either.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Ok Malcolm Turnbull thank you very much for your time this morning.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Thank you.

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