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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Page: 1398


Mr LYONS (Bass) (14:30): My question is to the Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, representing the Minister for Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy. How are the government's legislative reforms modernising the economy and delivering a fairer deal for ordinary Australians and how has the passage of these major reforms through the parliament been received?

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:31): I thank the member for Bass for his question. I am very proud of the work this government has achieved. I am particularly proud to have the honour of being the Leader of the House of Representatives. It is a challenge from time to time. We started off with what used to be 71 votes but is now, Mr Speaker, 72 votes in order to get legislation through the parliament.

This morning we saw yet another seminal reform—the private health insurance reform to make the system fairer—blocked by those opposite since 2009. It has been in our budget papers since 2009; we have had two attempts to get it through the parliament previously. This morning we got it through the parliament, in spite of the absurd amendment put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, which was resoundingly defeated. The biggest vote this morning was against his amendment that it be put off until the next parliament. It is not surprising: 266 bills have passed this parliament compared with 108 in the first year of the Howard government where they had a clear majority. This parliament is functioning well; this parliament is able to engage with the crossbenches to ensure outcomes have occurred in the national interest.

These reforms join the carbon price, the minerals resource rent tax, the structural separation of Telstra and the National Broadband Network. This legislation joins our budget, which went through faster than ever last year. These reforms together will transform the economy for the benefit of average Australians. In particular, I have presented more than a dozen bills relating to the National Broadband Network, which will transform the way that our economy is able to compete with our neighbours in the region. The NBN, which we expect will create some 18,000 jobs in construction alone, will transform the great tyranny of distance that has disadvantaged those people living regionally. Those opposite play a hypocritical double game. Member after member writes to Senator Conroy, or sometimes it is forwarded on to me as the minister representing him in this place, asking for the NBN in their electorate. Yet last week they were in here arguing against community service obligations for regional Australia. Those opposite just say no to everything that comes before this House. This government is determined to continue to push on with our positive agenda.