Transcript: Interview with Marcus Paul on 2CC



SUBJECT/S: Multi-billion dollar NBN budget blowout; Australian Republic

MARCUS PAUL: Gai Brodtmann is the federal Labor MP for Canberra. She joins us on Canberra Live. Hello Gai.


PAUL: You say that Canberrans, in places like Monash and Theodore, are missing out on the NBN and this is because of delays and cost blowouts. How much is this behemoth costing the Australian taxpayer these days?

BRODTMANN: Malcolm Turnbull made a lot of promises on the NBN, Marcus. He promised that the rollout of the fibre to the node would be at scale by now and that hasn’t happened. He promised that every home and business would have access to 25 megabits per second by the end of 2016 and that hasn’t happened and it looks unlikely to happen, and he also promised that the NBN would be built for $29.5 billion and we’ve found out this week that it’s going to cost $56 billion. So what I’m concerned about Marcus is the fact that not only has the cost nearly doubled, but the fact that Canberrans are getting a second rate version of the NBN, with slower connection speeds. And that’s particularly the case down here in the Tuggeranong Valley. We’ve got areas with what is called an ‘E rating’ that aren’t even on the NBN rollout map. We know that in my electorate we’ve got suburbs like Wright and small parts of O’Malley and Coombs and Phillip and Weston, there are pockets in my electorate that are on the NBN map and –

PAUL: Sorry Gai, I have to say, there does seem to be more of a priority with this whole NBN rollout in Canberra’s north to be quite honest, by the looks of it. Because I have it up in Franklin. We’ve got it here at the radio station. It is around the newer suburbs from my understanding, like Crace, and it would appear, I don’t know why, that down in the Valley they seem to have missed out!

BRODTMANN: Completely! As you say Marcus, we’ve got a real digital divide here between the North and the South and I’m very, very concerned about it. And it’s been one of those issues where people have been suffering in silence. No one had approached me on this issue. No one had approached me at my community forums or my mobile offices over the course of me being the Member for Canberra. It was only when I was doing some door knocking earlier this year when I started to talk to people about the parlous state of their download speed. In Gowrie we’ve got 1.3 megabits per second, Kambah 2.2, Wanniassa 1.7, Banks 1.5, Monash between five and six, Calwell 0.5, Bonython 0.5 and Duffy 1.25 – and what is regarded as good is about 20 megabits per second.

PAUL: What about your mate Zed? You can’t have a word with Zed and get him to tap Malcolm on the shoulder and say what is going on?

BRODTMANN: I’ve been in contact with Malcolm already on this about individual constituents who have approached me. I’ve now got a petition on it and I’ve had hundreds of people signing up to the petition and I want thousands. I’ve also had an NBN forum – I think I actually spoke to you about that?

PAUL: Yes. You did.

BRODTMANN: We had a packed house; there were more than 200 people there. And Canberrans want their NBN and they want it now. And we want to actually find ourselves on the map! That would be a good start.

PAUL: Alright well if I could just move on to another issue. The push yesterday here in town for a republic. We had a good chat to Peter FitzSimons about it. I haven’t spoken to Katy about it yet but where do you sit, Gai?

BRODTMANN: Well I was there in 1999 working on the ‘Yes’ campaign. So I’ve been a longstanding supporter of the republic and I was there at the lunch yesterday. I thought FitzSimons’ speech was brilliant. I don’t know whether you heard any of it Marcus but it was funny, it was informative and it was delivered with great passion.

PAUL: He came on yesterday afternoon and almost repeated it. All I have to do with Peter FitzSimons is say ‘g’day Pete, what’s up?’ and off he goes!

BRODTMANN: And the thing is too, what he said is that we need – because in a way it’s been an issue that’s been in the wilderness since it went down in 1999. He has rekindled my fire and I hope he rekindles the fires of people who support the republic. I love the fact that he said what we need here is a bit of low brow passion. And we need to make this issue fun and exciting and I agree with him entirely.

PAUL: Alright now the only thing I see as being a problem, as it was in 1999, is a lack of detail. A lot of people on the radio program yesterday Gai, thought well maybe it’s not a bad idea to have an Australian head of state but what model do we need to adopt. Some people say well Pete’s great at posturing and getting it all out there and trumpeting the republican trumpet, but when it comes to the finer details it’s a bit lacking at this stage…

BRODTMANN: And he acknowledged that. He put forward his preferred option which is the minimal change option – I don’t think it was that term that he used – but the least likely change in the fact that you get the president appointed in a similar way to the Governor General. But he acknowledged that was his view and that there were varying views amongst the Australian Republican Movement and so people are still having that conversation. But he acknowledged that there were differences of opinion – as there were unfortunately in 1999 - which is why it went down.

PAUL: Alright good to talk to you, as always. We’ll catch up soon.

BRODTMANN: Thanks Marcus, thanks for having me.

PAUL: Anytime. Federal Labor MP for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann.

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