DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
THE HON. BARNABY JOYCE
MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
SENATOR THE HON. MITCH FIFIELD
MINISTER FOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS
SENATOR THE HON FIONA NASH
Front Lawn, Parliament House
14 September 2016
E & OE
She was on nbn, and she said it was so fantastic. She was out in the bush, a couple of the other people near her hadn’t quite gotten on yet. And she said it was absolutely great.
I mean thing the thing is, It’s one of the great successes of the Government that there are now three million people nationwide who can access the nbn and over 1.2 million people who are already on it. So, 25 per cent of the nation can access the nbn and it’s going to be half the nation by the middle of next year.
Even simple stuff like phone lines, voice over internet protocols, that’s all able to be done. They can watch Question Time.
They can watch you!
That’s fantastic, that’s great. But what’s really interesting is when people realise that the satellite now, the Sky Muster, is not like the satellite we’ve seen previously. It’s an entirely new technology. The speed of the delivery is so much faster and what people can do with it. So once they realise that it’s a whole new technology and we’re putting the second one up hopefully in October.
Are you pushing the button for it?
Not going to French Guiana, no.
Things have come a long way from what was basically a failed project, when Malcolm became Communications Minister. It’s now been put on a path where it’s going to be completed six to eight years sooner than it would have been under our predecessors.
There’s a big difference between dreaming about something and actually being able to build it and make it work. That’s the difference between competence and a discussion piece.
There’s been a lot of concern still in regional communities that maybe Sky Muster isn’t living up to hopes and expectations. Do you see it performing as it should?
I’ll let the Minister speak to that.
Look, absolutely. I’m very impressed with what we’ve seen so far that’s been rolled out across the rural areas under Sky Muster. Keep in mind too, that people are now getting a service under Sky Muster when they never had a service at all. Some of the concerns are really misconceptions around the old satellite compared to the new satellite. So, once people realise that we have this new satellite with the new technology up and running, a lot of those concerns disappear. What we have done of course, is made it particularly targeted at distance students and there’s capacity set aside, 50 gigabytes, for students in households, up to three students in a household. So that we know that they have got the data that they need to be able to learn. And that’s been a really important part of what’s been rolled out.
Fiona is absolutely right. The satellite service that Stephen Conroy put in place, known as the Interim Satellite Service, was an absolute shocker. People had an appalling experience on that satellite, which is why it’s so important that we have the Sky Muster satellite which is now available. 24,000 people are on the Sky Muster satellite. 2,000 additional people every week. And people who are on the Sky Muster satellite are having a fantastic experience. Very different to the Conroy satellite experience.
And they’re getting up to 25 megabits per second. What is interesting, that we’re seeing across the country, is even if higher speeds are on offer through fixed wireless or the other technologies, 83 per cent of people are only choosing to take a 25 megabits plan because that’s more than adequate for their needs.
So for people who can’t qualify for Sky Muster, what’s next from the Government? What are you working on now?
Everyone in Australia will get the nbn. No one will be left behind. What we’re pursuing is a multi-technology mix, where some people will get fibre to the premises, some fibre to the node, some via the HFC pay-tv cable, some via fixed wireless and some via satellite.
The beauty of the multi-technology mix approach is that the nbn’s mandate is use the technology that makes sense, to get the nbn to people fastest and at lowest cost. Because of that approach we’re seeing now over 25 per cent of the nation able to access the nbn. It will be 50 per cent in the middle of next year. The nbn will be completed nationwide by 2020, which is six to eight years sooner than would have been the case under our predecessors.
Let’s not forget that the nbn under Labor was a failed project. That despite 6.5 billion dollars having been spent over four or five years, only 51,000 people were connected under Labor. Contractors had downed tools in four states. The project had basically collapsed. Malcolm Turnbull brought order to bear where there was chaos. And the nbn is one of the great successes of this Government and one of the great successes of Malcolm Turnbull.
We want to ensure that we have really strong rural communities, so that our children and our grandchildren either want to stay in those communities or come back to those communities. And the Coalition Government’s nbn is going to ensure we have those strong communities out in rural areas.
I think it’s important – and you can chip in on this one Mitch and Fiona – people have got to understand the service that they need. So often you’re out in the country and people say “Oh you know, I want fibre to the premises,” – and I say, “Well mate, that’s going to cost tens of billions of dollars extra.”
So you want a thousand megabit service, a gigabit service, well what are you going to do? Run ASIO from your house? If you want a high-definition movie, then about a five megabit per second service down is what you need. So if you’re getting 25 through this, you can run five. Five at the same time. People say “I want to be able to monitor aged care for my parents when they get old,” and my answer is “Sure, great idea. Do you want to do static monitoring? Like static points?” Well that needs one megabit per second up. Maybe you’d like to stream it? “Oh yeah, that’d be great.” Well we can do it in normal streaming at four megabits or high-definition at five. So you can do that. You don’t need 1000 megs. You don’t need 1000 if five will do it. And you want to pay for the service that suits you.
People are becoming more and more adept in understanding the product that they need, to provide the service that they want, rather than falling into this trap of someone just saying you need something absolutely fantastic. When they actually sit down and go “No I don’t, not for my requirements.”
Mr Joyce, as Deputy PM, can I ask you and your colleagues to maybe reflect on what you see to be the big achievements of Malcolm Turnbull and his first anniversary as PM?
Where do you want to start? This press conference can go all day.
First of all, just in the rural commodities, we’re managing to get through all our free trade agreements and all our protocol backings. So, you’re now experiencing record cattle prices, record sheep prices, record protein grains, chickpeas. We’ve got farm management bonds now that can go to $800,000. We are now bringing forward a Regional Investment Corporation. We are rolling out new dams. We are rolling out new roads. We are managing to turn the Budget around.
We have now taken our first serious step of Budget correction; that we have been able to do and be able to negotiate with the Labor Party. We are rolling out the nbn so that it’s actually a service people want and it’s being able to be delivered. We’ve started on a program, substantive program; that will allow our nation to defend itself in a vastly more competent form once more. It is just absurd when people say what are you doing – there’s this and so much more.
We have economic growth at 3.3 per cent. That’s the best out of all the G7. We have new jobs, I think there’s about 220,000 new jobs just this year. Fair go, we are actually delivering. The thing we’re doing is competently in our offices, making sure the outcomes are happening. We’re not doing cartwheels, running around the place like Mr Shorten. The only thing that Mr Shorten is delivering is an absolute free-kick at the post for Anthony Albanese. And we’re looking forward to Anthony Albanese taking over his job.
I think commentators that are saying the Turnbull-Joyce Government isn’t delivering are actually looking a little bit stupid right about now because they clearly haven’t been bothered to find out the facts. Everything the Deputy Prime Minister has just talked about.
When it comes to health, we’re going to have a National Rural Health Commissioner for the first time in place to really advocate and ensure that we’ve got everything in place that we need for rural health. We’re moving towards a national rural generalist pathway. That means we’re going to have GPs out in the bush being recognised for those extra skills that they’re doing, out in the regional areas.
It was the Turnbull-Joyce Government that provided $300 million to address the issue of ice, of drugs, out in our communities. That has been absolutely massive, because there is no doubt that drugs in our regional communities in particular, are having an enormous effect on families, on people right across the communities. And it was the Turnbull-Joyce Government that did that. So from health to inland rail, it was the Turnbull-Joyce Government that’s invested now nearly $600 million to start making that a reality.
So people who say the Turnbull-Joyce Government hasn’t delivered, are actually looking a little bit stupid right about now.
We have delivered a lot. We shouldn’t forget the Innovation and Science Agenda. We shouldn’t forget the Defence Industry Plan. We’ve got a lot more to do. Scott Morrison only this week introduced into the Parliament legislation to provide tax cuts to small businesses, legislation to address bracket-creep for people on average incomes.
And if you want a practical example of delivery that we’ve done and more to do, it’s the van that’s next to me here. That Australians in regional areas can jump on this van, they can have a look at the sorts of services that they’ll be getting under the Sky Muster satellite. And the nbn is not a means in itself. nbn is important for what it can do for the Australian economy and what it can do for Australian businesses and households. It’s important enabling economic infrastructure that really wasn’t going to happen under our predecessors. So that is good news.
We’ve got more to do. We’re going to work hard. And we still have, can I say as Manager of Government Business in the Senate, a full agenda. We want to reintroduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission. We want to introduce a Registered Organisations Commission so that union officials are subject to the same standards as company directors. And for my part as a Victorian, very keen to see legislation through the Parliament to protect the CFA volunteers. So we’ve done a lot, and we’ve got a lot more to do.
And now the Turnbull-Joyce Government has got to go to a leadership meeting.
Just quickly, same-sex marriage, why do you remain convinced that the plebiscite is the way to go? How do you reassure Australians it won’t descend into…
It’s very simple. Because I now get one vote, you get one vote, your listeners get one vote. That’s how a democracy works. It’s what the Australian people want. It’s what even Labor Party supporters want. Let’s just get on and get it done.