Malcolm Turnbull, Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband, has shed further light on what the Coalition's approach would be to the National Broadband Network (NBN).
The Coalition has repeatedly stated it would use a fibre-to-the-node network for the NBN, as opposed to the current Labor deployment of fibre-to-the-premises.
However, Turnbull said at a doorstop interview that the Coalition would use a combination of fibre-to-the-node and fibre-to-the-premises, installing fibre-to-the-premises in new housing estates.
“…and the reason for that is that the cost difference between connecting a new development like this with fibre versus copper is not that great, and so the logic for going for fibre-to-the-premises is pretty compelling,” he said.
Turnbull also said the Coalition would prioritise areas for the NBN which currently have poor broadband connectivity.
“The NBN is not doing that, so the NBN is currently proposing to overbuild areas where, for example, in Canberra where they’ve actually got fibre-to-the-premises which TransACT has put in,” Turnbull said.
Turnbull also said the Coalition would reassess the current government ban on Chinese company Huawei taking part in the NBN.
It was revealed in March this year by the Australian Financial Review that Huawei had been banned from supplying equipment to the NBN due to security concerns from the federal government.
However, Turnbull questioned why Australia would ban the company when the Chinese company was involved with other broadband rollouts around the world, such as the UK, which would have similar security concerns as Australia.
“And a lot of people have been surprised that Australia would take a different approach. Having said that, we have not been privy to the security intelligence advice that the government has had,” he said.
While the federal government has expressed concerns over links the company has with the Chinese government and potential cyber attacks, Turnbull said the fact a company is state-owned should not preclude it from “being an investor in Australia".
“You can leave the Chinese aside for one minute and look at Optus – that belongs to SingTel. Look at our biggest defence contractor — that belongs to Thales, which I think has a 27 or 30 per cent holding from the French government," Turnbull said.
Instead, Turnbull said Australia should be embracing foreign investment and the Coalition will not discriminate on the basis of a company being foreign-owned.
“The level of state ownership or government control of foreign companies is something that everyone should be transparent about but we are not proposing any ban or barrier to government-owned or government-influenced foreign companies acquiring assets in Australia,” he said.
“And as I said, there are so many examples from so many different countries you really would be trying to lock the stable door after the horse had bolted.”
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