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Thursday, 24 March 2011
Page: 3336

Mr KATTER (5:13 PM) —I have some brief observations. I want to back up very strongly my colleague from New England and also thank very sincerely the Independent senator from South Australia, Nick Xenophon, for moving amendments and reinforcing in this legislation that we are going to be treated equally. With the rollout of these very comprehensive services, the very high speed and broad width delivery of information in all its forms, there has always been a question mark over whether we are going to get the same price. We thank very much the Leader of the House for the assurances that he has just provided.

On the amendment moved by the member for Cowper: I would not be voting against anything that says that we are going to get equal pricing, but one has to understand that there is some inconsistency when you are moving for equal pricing but you are not actually going to provide the NBN service. You have to really understand how important this is for rural Australia. I am not saying that it might not be done, and I applaud the member for Wentworth, who has kept his gun loaded and has ridden shotgun all of the way on this. I think that, as a result of his energies, we will not see the sort of things happen that happened in the GFC—the handout with respect to the schools and the handout with respect to the insulation batts—and that is a very great credit to him. But for us to look a gift horse in the mouth here, when we are being provided with one of the most important moves forward that we will see in our lifetimes, and for us to question and start fooling around with it—

Mr Frydenberg —At what cost?

Mr KATTER —You say, ‘What cost?’ and I will take the interjection. I will tell you what cost: the same sort of cost that gives Brisbane $20,000 million on their highway to the Gold Coast but does not give one-tenth of the population, which lives in Far North Queensland, a single cent for their roads. That is the sort of cost—the sort of cost that you do not understand with respect to what we call the tyranny of the majority. I will give you recommended reading so you can catch up on the democratic forms of government. Unfortunately we live in a situation where the winner takes all. But, for once in our history in the last 40 or 50 years, the winner cannot take all because we are sitting here and we have got a deal for rural Australia.

Chifley had to make a decision after the war on whether he was going to deliver phones to every house in Australia. If you want to go back and have a look at the arguments, the same silly people were sitting on this side of the House arguing that every house in Australia could not have a telephone because it would cost too much. Well, thank the good Lord—because my family came from Cloncurry, where they have lived for over a century—that Chifley was listened to and not the opposition.

We have to move forward. Yes, there might be some other technologies out there. I have not heard the opposition put forward a single solitary alternative technology. They think we should wait for some science-fiction fantasy to jump out from behind a bush and provide a service for us. Well, too bad for you. We have an offer on the table and we are going to take it. Rural Australia is going to be looked after, and I hope the electors remember those who have not voted for it.