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Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Page: 6570

Senator FARRELL (3:10 PM) —I rise to take note and to make the observation that Senator Minchin has made some announcements today himself. One of them related to the relevance of fast broadband when wireless is popular with the Australian population. Labor’s policy provides both for fast broadband and for wireless. One of the things that—

Senator Fisher —To whom? Where is your analysis?

Senator FARRELL —Senator Fisher seeks to interject. Our proposal is very clear. We are going to provide a combination—we will provide fast broadband to as much of the Australian population as we can and, for those who live where we cannot, we will provide wireless. Nothing that the Labor Party is proposing to do—

Senator Fisher —Is that a promise?

Senator FARRELL —Yes, we keep our promises, Senator Fisher. That is what distinguishes the Labor Party from the Liberal Party. We do keep our promises. One of the promises we made to the Australian people at the last election was that we would introduce fast broadband to this country. You did nothing about this issue for the 11 or 12 years that you were in government, but Labor is going to do something about it. We are going to introduce fast broadband to this country.

This is the way of the future. If you have children, you know how important broadband is to them. As soon as they get home at night they race not to the fridge, not to the television, but to the computer. They turn on their computer and turn on the internet. They start facebooking or they start twittering or they start youtubing. Yes, Senator Kroger, this is what they do. This is the future for Australia. We have politicians now, even Mr Turnbull, doing this. The Deputy President will know the Premier of South Australia is a big twitterer. He gets involved in twittering.

Senator Ian Macdonald —He is a big twit.

Senator FARRELL —No, he is not a twit. He is a twitterer. There is quite a distinction, Senator Macdonald, between being a twit and twittering, as you ought to know.

Senator Ludwig interjecting—

Senator FARRELL —As Senator Ludwig points out, he comes from Queensland and he knows a lot more about you, Senator Macdonald, than I do. This is all about the future. The future involves fast broadband. That is not to say that we will not have wireless. Of course we are going to have wireless. Lots of people will have wireless, maybe in Maitland, for example. I do not know whether they get fast broadband over there, but they would like some wireless.

What fast broadband enables you to do is have wireless in your own house. That is what a lot of families do. They connect to ADSL at the moment, but they have a number of laptops. The children, in particular, have laptops at school thanks to our education revolution. They can go home and they can access the computer so they can download their movies, their TV programs or whatever else it is that they might want to do on the internet.

Our fast broadband is going to speed that up. We are going to speed up access on wireless. I am not an expert on this, but I understand that this new fast broadband might be up to 10 times as fast as wireless is able to provide at the moment. In other words, we will still give people the option of having wireless but will enable that at a much faster speed so that people can access whatever they want to do on the internet at a very much faster speed. We are all about choice—not about Work Choices; we know what Work Choices was all about. This is about choice: broadband, wireless and freeing up the system that at the moment is quite restrictive.