Page 3389 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 September 2015

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Digital Canberra will improve the ACT economy by accelerating business engagement with the digital economy, driving the rise of efficiency and productivity, and increasing linkages to regional, national and international markets. We will establish the digital economy by promoting Canberra’s digital credentials, facilitating capacity building and knowledge, providing business support and cutting red tape, funding internships for higher education students and collaborating with research and regional partners to identify digital opportunities.

The ACT government’s comprehensive strategy for a digital Canberra contrasts with the failures and blowouts of the Turnbull-led coalition’s NBN. The national broadband network, as originally laid out by the federal Labor government, was to be a revolution for internet use in Australia. The vision was for a system where the vast majority of Australians could access world-class connection speeds, and it would have underpinned wide-scale technological innovation across Australia and in the ACT.

However, since the Abbott and now Turnbull government rose to power the NBN has suffered from massive cost blowouts and a significant fall in the percentage of homes that will get a full fibre to the premises connection. The NBN is experiencing death by a thousand cuts under this Liberal government. The rollout is now slower and more expensive than promised. After doubling the size of the deficit, the Abbott government has now nearly doubled the cost of the now second-rate NBN.

The cost of the coalition’s NBN was $29.5 billion in April 2013, it blew out to $41 billion in December 2013, and again to $42 billion in August 2014 and recently it was announced that it will now cost up to $56 billion. The financial return to taxpayers has also fallen. In December 2013 the expected rate of return was up to 5.3 per cent. Now it will be 3.5 per cent at best. As for the future revised rate, who knows?

Australians are now paying the price for Malcolm Turnbull’s mistakes and will be forced to pay a lot more for a worse network. The Liberals’ failures on the NBN are not just from its bungling of the rollout but from the promises that they have so flagrantly broken since their election. The broken promises began in late 2013. When everyone was distracted by the closure of Holden, Malcolm Turnbull, the then Minister for Communications, came into the parliament and said that the government was breaking their promise on the NBN. Furthermore, in April 2013 Tony Abbott said that, if elected, everyone would have access to 25 megabits per second by the end of 2016. That promise has been well and truly broken.

It is not the only promise they have broken on the NBN. They promised that nine million households would get fibre to the node. Now only about three million households get even that. Under Labor, Canberra would have had a state-of-the-art NBN, fibre to the premises, which would have changed the way we live and work. However, under Mr Turnbull, only 25 per cent of Australia will get fibre to the premises. And that is if it is not revised down even further.

The simple question is: what has caused this? It is because whilst some Liberals can talk up the digital economy the wider Liberal Party does not understand how important the NBN is or any other major nation building project, for that matter. The

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