Response to Question Without Notice - House of Representatives - Broadband

Mr Brian Mitchell (Lyons) (14:15): My question is to the Minister for Communications. What steps is the Albanese Labor government taking to ensure Australians have access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband?

Ms Rowland (Greenway—Minister for Communications) (14:15): The Albanese government is committed to driving economic and social inclusion through fast, reliable and affordable broadband. Broadband isn't a nice-to-have. It's essential, like electricity and water, but too many Australians have a connection that's slow and unreliable. In many cases, that's a result of inferior copper infrastructure. That's why this government is delivering a better National Broadband Network. We delivered $480 million for NBN's fixed wireless network upgrade, extending coverage to another 120,000 premises that are currently on satellite. In the October budget, we committed to upgrade an additional 1.5 million premises to full fibre by the end of 2025. Importantly, over 660,000 of these premises are in regional Australia. These upgrades will create thousands of jobs for construction workers, engineers and project managers in our suburbs and our regions.

Importantly, these upgrades will drive productivity. Only a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting a fantastic small business in Adelaide, Chloe's Creative Co, that's already reaping the benefits of an upgrade from copper to fibre technology. Chloe's a young mum, and she's running a consultancy from home. She said her fibre upgrade is a game changer. Her uploads and downloads are faster, her connection is better quality and she's able to spend more time growing her business rather than dealing with dropouts. These are the tangible economic dividends that come from reliable broadband. That is what the Albanese government is delivering.

Our approach also places greater emphasis on affordability. We've reset the NBN special access undertaking process. We have reversed a proposal made under the former government that, if implemented, would have allowed broadband prices to increase by more than the CPI on some products.

Finally, the pandemic showed us that there were tens of thousands of families, right around Australia, who, for whatever reason, did not have any access to the internet. That meant that children in these households were at a distinct disadvantage during remote learning. That's why last week the government launched our $4.5 million School Student Broadband Initiative. It's an affordability measure to enable up to 30,000 unconnected families to access free broadband for 12 months so those kids and their families are not left behind. With funding from this government in the October budget, NBN Co is partnering with state and territory education bodies, charities and community groups to identify recipients for this program. So across speed, reliability and affordability, this government is delivering a better NBN that all Australians deserve.