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Thursday, 24 March 2011
Page: 3313

Mr ALBANESE (Leader of the House) (3:18 PM) —I am pleased to make another contribution to this debate. The comments from the member for Sturt just then were quite unparliamentary. They did nothing to support the dignity of the House, are against standing orders and against the House of Representatives Practice. There are a bunch of people who sit on that side of the House in opposition who think that the way to get people on side is to abuse them, denigrate them and run them down. It is just extraordinary. The regional representatives in seats such as Kennedy, Lyne and New England, as well as regional government members such as the member for Lingiari, have been consistent in their support for high-speed broadband throughout the times in which they have had the privilege of occupying a seat in the House of Representatives.

Some might recall some history here. When Telstra was privatised, those opposite chose to go down a path that led to a two-speed system, with one speed for constituents in electorates like mine in inner Sydney or electorates like that of the member for Wentworth and another speed for constituents in regional Queensland, regional New South Wales, regional Western Australia, the outer suburbs or growth areas such as the Illawarra, Newcastle and Western Sydney. All in that last group got a second-rate service.

We have heard today some of those opposite talk about OPEL. That is fine if you live in a flat desert where there is no rain, no hills and no structures. These people are absolute hypocrites. There was no cost-benefit analysis of OPEL. In fact, there was no cost-benefit analysis of any of the 20 plans that they had. The fact is that those opposite have been completely inconsistent when it comes to national broadband. The only thing that they have been consistent on is that they are completely opposed to the government’s agenda.

Today, indeed, we had a debate for more than three hours about whether we would have a debate or not. Now those opposite say, ‘Bring on the vote!’ That is an extraordinary position. The member for Sturt—who was, I remind him, the last speaker in this debate—is accusing people of filibustering. That says it all about the Manager of Opposition Business. So enamoured is he with the sound of his own voice that he speaks about the need for no-one to speak. No wonder he gets the publicity he does. My comments in his Good Weekend article were the most positive in there.

Ms Rowland —The answer to the question on the cover is yes.

Mr ALBANESE —The member for Greenway, who is not as generous of spirit as I am, clearly, was not asked about the member for Sturt. She says that the answer to the question on the cover is yes. I was more generous to the member for Sturt, because I know that there are people sitting behind him who are a lot worse and people sitting on the front bench alongside him who are a lot worse. The fact is that this legislation needs to be carried. The amendments that have been supported in the Senate are worthy of support. They provide a way forward to advance the National Broadband Network.