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Thursday, 18 August 2005
Page: 118

Mr CIOBO (9:50 AM) —I rise this morning to raise some significant concerns that I have with some of the advocacy that the member for Richmond, Mrs Justine Elliot, has been putting forward to the House. It has been my observation that the member for Richmond continues to confuse a number of important issues, and deliberately so, I feel, with respect to the needs of her constituents in the federal electorate of Richmond.

Earlier this morning I heard the member for Richmond talking about the privatisation of Telstra and how that will in some way adversely affect her constituents. Highlights that were provided by the member for Richmond included the fact that she named a local constituent who was, apparently, unable to have access to broadband. I would question that. In my view, it probably was not that there was a lack of access to broadband but rather a lack of access to ADSL broadband, and that is an entirely separate proposition.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that we are still using a phone service that was installed some 100 years ago, based on a platform technology of copper wire. Given that copper wire was installed to carry voice only and has been used over the past 100 years, it is really quite exceptional that we are now able to adapt the copper wire platform to also transport broadband internet. But there is a limit to this technology. Unfortunately, currently with ADSL technology copper wire can only be used to broadcast broadband within a maximum radius of 4.5 to five kilometres from an exchange. It is hoped, with the advent of ADSL 2 Plus, that we will be able to reach a radius of some 20 kilometres from an exchange for broadband service delivery. Nonetheless, the technology is limited.

I am most concerned that the member for Richmond would come into this chamber and argue that, because of a limit on a technology, Telstra needs to remain in public hands. We must not lose sight of the fact that the Australian Labor Party sold the Commonwealth Bank, yet for some bizarre reason it believes that a half publicly owned and a half privately owned Telstra is the way forward. Likewise, the member for Richmond has expressed numerous concerns about the government’s IR reforms, despite the fact that the Gold Coast and Tweed districts are the small business capitals of Australia. There are so many people there, particularly those working in the hospitality industry, that they need to rely on flexible working arrangements. The reality is that these IR reforms will play an important part in providing the kind of flexibility that will ensure that there are employment prospects, particularly in the hospitality industry.

The member for Richmond needs to wake up. The member for Richmond needs to recognise that IR reform and flexibility will ensure that the best prospects are available for those who wish to work in the hospitality industry. The member for Richmond needs to recognise that the privatisation of Telstra is a step forward for the people of Richmond. I call upon the member for Richmond to recognise these benefits. (Time expired)