Sky News with Laura Jayes > Mitch Fifield, Liberal Senator for Victoria

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18-October-2017

 

Sky News with Laura Jayes

Sky Studio Parliament House, Canberra

18 October 2017

11:15am

Text Box: Subject: Wilkie gambling allegations, TIO Annual report and NBN complaints

E & OE

 

JAYES:

Mitch Fifield the Communications Minister joins me here in the studio.  Mitch these allegations have just been made in parliament by Andrew Wilkie.  I imagine this falls under your portfolio perhaps.  What have you done since you have heard these allegations.  What course of action can you take?

FIFIELD: 

I’ve only just caught a little bit on the news in relation to what Andrew Wilkie has said in the House of Representatives.  My understanding is that it has to do with poker machines.  And regulation of poker machines is something that falls squarely within the State jurisdiction. While I have responsibility for online gaming, those physical poker machines in venues are really matters for the State Gaming Minister in Victoria.

 JAYES:

Ok fair enough.  Well look to be fair to you I should let the audience know that we got you in to talk about the NBN report. And this has just dropped.  So you haven’t had time to see the report.  So what the allegations are is the Crown Casino has been avoiding AUSTRAC scrutiny and they have also sanctioned the use of illegal drugs and covered up instances of domestic violence.  Now the number one allegation that Andrew Wilkie is making is allegations of serious criminal misconduct and that poker machines have been tampered with.  You say that this is the State jurisdiction but is there anything that I have just told you, and you will have to trust me with the report, that you can look into, that the Federal Government might have provision over.

FIFIELD: 

Look when it comes to AUSTRAC and its responsibilities for tracking the movement of funds, if there are allegations then it is appropriate for relevant law enforcement authorities to investigate that.

JAYES:

On the face of it how serious do you think these allegations are?  Because this has been, from what Andrew Wilkie said, quite broad and quite widespread and could have been going on for quite a while

FIFIELD: 

All I know is the snippet that I saw on the news a little bit earlier.  Parliament is a forum where colleagues can make a proposition. They can put that forward if they think there is potentially some wrong doing.  And it’s really a matter for the relevant authorities.  That is what Andrew Wilkie has done but it’s really a matter for the relevant law enforcement authorities to investigate.

JAYES:

OK moving on to the last question on this before we get to the NBN.  You actually have to go back to the Senate I believe, there is another division so we will have to let you go.

FIFIELD: 

That’s showbiz. But I will come back shortly.

[INTERUPPTION]

JAYES:

Mitch Fifield is fresh back from a division.  He is going up and down the stairs to the press gallery.  Thank you once again for joining us.  We will have a few clear minutes before we have another division in the Senate.  Let me ask you about this Ombudsman report.  How concerned are you that there has been an increase in complaints about the NBN.

FIFIELD: 

Well the first point is I never want to diminish the experience of an individual or a business if it hasn’t been all that it should be. But it is also important to have the Ombudsman’s report in context.  The complaints about the NBN are increasing, pretty much in line with the rollout of the NBN.  So we’ve had basically a 100% increase in the number of premises connecting to the NBN over the previous twelve months.  So there are a range of factors that people can have issue with.  A lot of them relate to the retailers on the NBN network and not with NBN itself.  And the Ombudsman’s report doesn’t distinguish really between retailer issues and NBN issues.

JAYES:

So customers basically have to expect a bit of pain for a future gain.  Is that what you are saying?

FIFIELD: 

Well we are essentially doing in the space of seven years what it took the PMG and Telecom seventy years to do.  And that is we are establishing a brand new network. And everyone in the nation will be moving across to the NBN network.  So when you have the best part of eleven million premises migrating across, there will be some issues.  And the challenges that people face really fall into two types.  One is the actual migration experience to a new network. And the good news about that is, it is a one off you are only going to migrate to a new network every 100 years or so.  And NBN and the retailers are getting better at the migration experience.  The other sort of issue really relates to peoples expectations when it comes to speed.  Modems are a big part there.  Often people will have the wrong modem.  They will have been sent the wrong modem, or purchase the wrong modem.  In-house wiring is also a significant reason for people not having the speeds they expect.  And that can be fixed.  And then there’s the issue of ensuring that the retailers are purchasing from NBN the capacity that they need.

JAYES:

Yes so this is a retailer issue.  Do you have any control over that?  Because the retailers are basically giving the NBN a bad name on some of these cases.

FIFIELD: 

Retailers have an absolute obligation to honour their contracts with their customers.  And to purchase from NBN the capacity that they need to service them.  And there are a few things that we are doing here.  One is we have given money to the ACCC so that they can embed 4000 probes, in the nicest possible way, in peoples premises.  So that the ACCC will be able to report publically on the speeds people are getting by retailer.  The ACCC is also giving very clear guidance to the retailers as to how they need to advertise their products.  That they can’t be misleading.  And the ACCC I think is poised if retailers don’t do the right thing there to come down pretty hard.  And we have also asked the Australian Communications and Media Authority to undertake a research project to identify what is the experience that customers are having and across the supply chain where the issues are.

JAYES:

I have to interrupt you we have to go live to Bill Shorten.

 

[ends]