Question Time response - NBN Co

Ms Lisa Chesters, Federal Member for Bendigo (14:50): My question is to the Minister for Communications. What changes has the Albanese Labor government made to reduce cost-of-living pressures and ensure that broadband services remain affordable?

The Hon Michelle Rowland, Minister for Communications  (14:50): This is an important week for customers of the National Broadband Network, with the decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to accept NBN Co's special access undertaking. The SAU provides the foundation for regulating pricing on the NBN, and the ACCC's approval will mean broadband access remains affordable and that NBN Co remains a commercially viable business that can meet Australia's evolving conductivity needs. As the ACCC noted, it is satisfied that NBN Co's SAU variation proposal promotes the long-term interests of Australians.

This is the most significant reset of the regulatory framework for a decade. The changes we made followed the failed attempt by the former coalition government to push through their SAU before the last election. This would have allowed price increases of inflation plus three per cent a year on some products. This had no prospect of acceptance by the ACCC. Mr Speaker you might ask why that was. That flawed proposal was the first step in the coalition's plan to privatise the NBN, rather than focus on the interests of Australians. In contrast, one of the first steps I took as minister, along with the Minister for Finance, was to support the withdrawal of this cynical coalition proposal and to consult properly with the industry and consumer groups to get a better outcome.

The Albanese government is working for Australia to help with cost-of-living pressures. The revised SAU will deliver greater price stability, keeping prices in line with inflation and protecting consumers from unexpected price hikes on their telco bills. This new SAU will also support the provision of a new basic voice and data service at around half the price of NBN Co's existing entry-level broadband offer.

The NBN has reshaped our economy, delivering productivity benefits to businesses big and small in the cities and the regions through faster services and access to more markets, and by enabling flexible working. A recent survey found that NBN users save over two hours per week and $2,580 per year in avoided costs by conducting their activities over the internet. With the ACCC's decision, we have established a long-term regulatory framework which will operate until 2040. I thank the ACCC, NBN Co, the industry and consumer groups for their extensive engagement in the long-term interests of all Australians.

The NBN is a great Labor initiative and, after nine wasted years under those opposite, we have got it back on track.