Question time response - rural and regional broadband

MRS FIONA PHILLIPS MP, MEMBER FOR GILMORE: My question is to the Minister for Communications. How is the Albanese Labor government delivering on its promise to deliver faster and more reliable broadband, particularly for regional and rural Australia?

MICHELLE ROWLAND, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: I thank the member for Gilmore for her question and for her ongoing advocacy for her constituents right across the communications portfolio. The Albanese government was elected on a platform of a better future for all, irrespective of whether you live in our cities, our suburbs or our regions. We are delivering on our commitments to connect Australian families, businesses and communities better than ever before.

We are investing $2.4 billion to give an additional 1.5 million premises fibre access to the National Broadband Network. What this means is that 90 per cent of homes and businesses in the NBN fixed-line footprint will have access to gigabit speeds by late 2025. What this includes is full fibre access for more than 660,000 additional homes and businesses in the regions currently relying on copper wire. This will boost the reliability of services and the productivity of our regional businesses, and support the changes in the ways we work, study and transact since the pandemic. What this means is that these additional fibre-to-the-premises connections will deliver an estimated $20 billion uplift in GDP by 2030. That enables communities and businesses to access faster broadband speeds and support thousands of jobs during the construction phase. But expanding access to optical fibre isn't just about downloads; it's about reliability and it's about resilience. It is about our global competitiveness. It builds on our delivery of $480 million earlier this year to upgrade the NBN fixed wireless network. What this means is a more consistent and reliable service for more users in the household,

Not too long ago I had the pleasure of visiting the farm of Peter and Megan near Weethalle with the member for Riverina. It was instructive to note how vital digital connectivity is to the operation of their farming enterprise, which, again, became all too relevant during the pandemic. But the approach taken by this government stands in stark contrast to the masterclass in economic and technological incompetence by those opposite. Those opposite rolled out a second-rate copper network beset by delays. They promised to build it for $29 billion. It went up to $41 billion, then $49 billion and, finally, came in at a staggering $58 billion—double what they promised! They ordered 60,000 kilometres of new copper—enough to wrap around planet Earth 1½ times—with taxpayers' money. In contrast, we're delivering better connectivity right across Australia.