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Monday, 15 November 2010
Page: 2165

Mr NEUMANN (11:21 AM) —Today I speak against the coalition’s proposal, the National Broadband Network Financial Transparency Bill 2010. I have here a map of the member for Wentworth’s electorate showing that so many of the people who live in his electorate live within two kilometres of an exchange. I also have here a map of central Ipswich. Its people cannot get access to the kind of broadband we need. I represent the rural and regional parts of Ipswich as well as the area of Somerset, and I know that is why we need the National Broadband Network.

Before the 2007 election I got Geoscience Australia to provide me with a map which showed the consequences of the failure of the coalition with respect to the broadband plans they took to the 2007 election. Great swathes of my electorate were not covered by their proposals; yet here, with Labor’s proposal in Springfield Lakes in my electorate—and of course in the member for Oxley’s electorate—we will see the National Broadband Network rolled out into that area next year.

But some country towns in my electorate would not get coverage under the opposition’s proposals—places like Coominya, Fernvale, Esk, Toogoolawah, Kilcoy, Lowood. They had 19 failed plans—not interested in the National Broadband Network, always opposed to it. This bill and the member for Wentworth’s other motion in the last couple of weeks are all about his own relevance. He is here to do a job on the National Broadband Network—always opposed to it; that is what this is about. Yet in those country towns and in Ipswich in my electorate, small businesses, farmers, schoolkids and those people that need and deserve a broadband network will get it. The coalition has always been opposed to it.

We had the member for Cowper saying, ‘We’re not trying to delay it.’ It is just nonsense. They are opposed to it. It is in their DNA. It is almost like their opposition to our fair work reforms and trade union. It is like Work Choices. Their opposition to the National Broadband Network is in their DNA. I cannot understand why they are so opposed to it.

We are talking about 25,000 jobs. We are talking about my electorate and electorates across the country being covered by the kind of fibre-to-the-premises that we need. We know we are lagging behind. Those people who have got broadband pay too much for it. Not enough people have coverage. It is too slow. Go to Korea. Go to places like that. You will see how fast the downloads are and how broad the coverage is. Yet in our country, one of the richest countries in the world, the coalition in this place is rolling out what they knew very well was a failed policy of $6.3 billion.

They know this is all about politics. This is not about economic development productivity. This is not about helping regional and rural Australia. This is about making the member for Wentworth relevant. This is about the coalition posing, preening and posturing to help small business. This is about their facade of economic responsibility when in fact they have been economically irresponsible. They parade themselves as the bastions and supporters of small business when they know very well that small businesses will benefit greatly from the National Broadband Network.

What about e-health? Their policy was to scrap e-health. E-health is so integrated with the National Broadband Network and so vital for regional and rural South-East Queensland and across the country, yet the coalition comes in here and opposes it.

Paul Heymans is a businessman in the Somerset region. He has made it very clear—and so have all the councils—in an article he wrote in the Somerset newspaper about why the Somerset region, my electorate, needs a national broadband network. The catchment is simply so important. The local economy and small businesses simply need to be able to compete nationally. Whether you are living in Toogoolawah or Toorak, you need the National Broadband Network because it is vital in helping you to compete. We have got all the councils: the Lockyer Valley Regional Council and the Scenic Rim Council in the electorate of Wright, the Ipswich City Council, and the Somerset Regional Council—all in South-East Queensland—urging the National Broadband Network into their area; demanding we bring it in, yet the coalition simply opposes it. This is not about looking for better costings and value for money; this is about opposition for opposition’s sake. (Time expired)