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Thursday, 24 March 2011
Page: 3347

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (6:04 PM) —I want to support the comments made by the member for Lyne and add to them, because I think they very much cut to the chase of what this is about. Earlier on, we had a point of order from the member for Bradfield while I was speaking to the amendment moved by Mr Hartsuyker, the member for Cowper and the ironically termed shadow minister for regional communications. I was speaking to the amendment that I was given by the member for Cowper about an hour and a half ago, but it changed. The number has changed because it was just wrong.

Mr Hartsuyker —I didn’t—

Mr ALBANESE —It was on the table here. It is on the official letterhead of the Parliament of Australia. This amendment moved by the member for Cowper is worth looking at. The amendment uses three different terms: ‘eligible service’, ‘broadband service’ and ‘particular service’, but the effect and interrelation between those three terms is completely unclear. Yet, they expect us to support an amendment to the law of the land where the implications are simply not clear. For instance, the reference to ‘broadband service’ suggests that section 151DA is to have no application to eligible services provided by NBN Co. that are for the carriage of voice communication. It is as sloppy as the 12 years of policy failure of those opposite.

The member for Wentworth would have us believe that we are all in favour of fast high-speed broadband, except for the fact that the National Broadband Network is being rolled out. It is real, it is happening and it is delivering. It is being rolled out in Tasmania, in north-western Queensland and in New England. What they said contradicts what the member for Wentworth has actually said about the NBN. The member for Wentworth said to the Australian on 12 January:

… the temptation for the NBN to … move into areas where it’s competing with the … private sector … will be almost irresistible …

He also went on to say on 4 February:

I don’t think the NBN will ever be built, because there are too many questions about how little benefit it will actually provide.

There is a range of others. Barnaby Joyce had this to say on 20 January:

The Labor party’s desire to continue on with the NBN, whilst Queensland Rail, as just one example of many, tells us it will take months to get the lines between Emerald and Rockhampton up and running is economically libellous in its negligence.

The shadow minister for finance had this to say:

At the top of the list, plans for the National Broadband Network should be put on hold until its value is established through a benefit-cost study.

I actually think that the case for fast, high-speed broadband is clear. I think the case for its benefiting regional Australia is particularly clear. I had a question without notice from a government member last week about delivery of transport services, rail services, and the difference in the relationship that it has to reducing our emissions. The National Broadband Network is the railway of this century. It will overcome the tyranny of distance. It is the most important thing we can do for regional Australia. It will have an impact on reducing our emissions. It will change the way that we work and the way that we live. It will have a revolutionary impact and is already in terms of education and health. It is about upload not just download. It is about what can be done. It is about providing the same opportunity for someone in Mount Isa as someone in Stanmore. At the moment they do not have that same opportunity. We are about getting on with this. The amendment moved would simply delay it. It would mean that there was more need for more parliamentary sittings; it is all about delay and prevarication. Everything that those opposite have done today has been aimed at that. That is all they have done throughout this debate. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER —The question is that the amendment moved by the member for Cowper be agreed to.

Question put: