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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1188

Broadband


Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:40): My question is to the Minister for Regional Development, Senator Nash. TheYoung Witness, in a story titled 'NBN is a dud in Young say locals', reports the NBN is delivering speeds half of those being spruiked by the member for Riverina, Michael McCormack. What does the minister have to say to residents of Young like Daryl Close, who says the government's second-rate NBN is 'rubbish in Young'?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:41): I do not agree with what the senator has put forward. Indeed, I was actually in Young last Friday and I was talking to local people and talking to the journalist who had written the article that the senator referred to. I was talking to them about this and many other issues, as I do as I am spending my time out in regional communities. Interestingly, if the shadow regional communications minister had bothered to read The Young Witness, he would realise that I responded in The Young Witness and put forward the facts, which I made very clear.

I am aware that some retailers are not passing on the full benefits available through the NBN. I am aware of that and I accept that when those occasions occur that some customers are annoyed, but the ACCC has actually intervened in this matter. It is holding retailers to account. It is going to make sure that there is clear and accurate information on what they are putting forward.

It is this government that is providing better communications for people in regional areas, be it the internet or mobile phones. Indeed, we have canvassed in this place before that the previous Labor government spent not one cent on mobile phone black spots. Here we have now the shadow regional communications minister reading the front page of The Young Witness, not following up and not getting an understanding of the issues. Unlike the Labor Party opposite, we on this side of the chamber are absolutely aware that we need to ensure better communications for regional people.

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, a supplementary question.



Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:43): Does the minister agree with Glen Blizzard, an IT specialist in Young, who says:

When you have a 100-year-old copper it will have to be replaced eventually. The Government would have saved a lot of money if they just put politics aside and went ahead with the original plan.


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:43): I thank the senator for her question, but I totally disagree. It would not have saved us money. If we had gone with Labor's plan, with the Conroy plan, it would have cost us $30 billion more. That is not a saving. I know that those on the other side are not very good on economics, but that is not a saving. If those on the other side paid some attention they would know that Young, which now has the NBN, would not even have the NBN yet if it were not for the coalition because Young was not even on the rollout schedule for Labor. The shadow regional communications minister needs to get his facts right before he sends his senators in here to ask questions.

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, your final supplementary question.



Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:44): I refer to the minister's first speech:

The Copper Age was 5,300 years ago, and that is where copper belongs.

Why did the Turnbull government not leave copper in the past where it belongs instead of giving regional Australians a degraded and slow network which will not stand the test of time?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:45): I am absolutely delighted that somebody in the Labor Party has bothered to read my first speech! I am absolutely delighted! If they had kept reading they would have learnt a lot more about regional Australia and probably a lot more about telecommunications and technology than they currently know. If anybody had bothered to tell Senator O'Neill, they would have been able to inform her that technology has moved on in the last 12 years. We can now do things with copper that we simply did not know about 12 years ago. It is this side of the chamber, not the Labor Party, that is delivering better telecommunications to regional Australia, and those on the other side know it. It is unfortunate they got sent in to ask this question, because all it does is highlight that the coalition, the Liberal-National Party, are the ones that are delivering for regional Australia.