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Wednesday, 8 April 1998
Page: 2751

Mr BRADFORD (11:54 AM) —I intend to exercise my new-found rights to speak in here on behalf of the Christian Democratic Party. We have not had a chance to have a party meeting so far this morning, but I have actually had the opportunity to listen objectively to a debate in this place in a way that I have not been able to do in a long time. Having done so—and the Minister for Finance and Administration (Mr Fahey) and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Family Services (Ms Worth), who are at the table, are looking down and frowning—I must say that the member for Calare (Mr Andren) made an excellent contribution and the member for Moore (Mr Filing) made an excellent contribution. Frankly, I was persuaded. I think the member for Moore is right on this particular issue. I think he is right because he is speaking out on behalf of rural and regional Australians, and the Gold Coast, and I am coming to that.

I am not a particularly high-tech person. I am learning to use my computer. But, since we got digital phones on the Gold Coast—and we have got the biggest per capita use of mobile phones on the Gold Coast of anywhere in the world—most of them do not work. I can only assume there is something very wrong with the existing system.

Mr Robert Brown —The phones, or the people who use them?

Mr BRADFORD —The phones do not work. We could talk about a lot of other areas that are similar. We have got all this satellite TV and cable TV coming, but some of my constituents cannot even get free to air TV. Despite the fact that I have been raising that with the government for eight years now, we still have parts of the Gold Coast—this is not Parkes or somewhere out west—

Mr Andren —Bathurst-Orange.

Mr BRADFORD —Or Bathurst or Orange. This is the Gold Coast, this is 100 kilometres from Brisbane, and we cannot get free to air TV in some parts of the Gold Coast.

I think the message we have heard and the amendments moved by the member for Moore simply make sense. To me, sitting here, they make sense. I ask myself why the government is doing this, and I think I heard the member for Calare saying that it is something that was done in the past and it is all too hard now to do something about it, so we end up with something that is far from satisfactory.

Mr Filing —It is inferior.

Mr BRADFORD —As both the member for Moore and the member for Calare have said, it is actually inferior. Why the government would be supporting something that is inferior is quite beyond me to understand.

The other thing I should say is that I am absolutely in favour of competition. I do not share the views of the member for Chifley (Mr Price) entirely. I believe that markets almost invariably make better decisions than governments and bureaucrats do, but I understand that markets have to be tempered with some government direction and involvement on occasions. But it seems to me that this is an anti-competitive measure, and that is a very good reason for me to be supporting the amendments by the member for Moore and also supporting strongly what I think were really sensible remarks by the member for Calare.