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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3301


Mr BRUCE SCOTT (MaranoaDeputy Speaker) (09:39): I rise today to discuss the Labor Party's poor policy management when they were in government. When members opposite launched their National Broadband Network satellite with great fanfare they promised people in rural and remote Australia connection capacity for more than 500,000. The reality has been that it has been a great mess, just another one of Labor's messes. A total capacity of only 50,000 is the result when it is fully subscribed.

What does this poor policy under Labor mean for people in my electorate? Di Brand from Ardgour, south-east of Charleville in the west of my electorate, could tell you. Di is currently supporting five children through the School of Distance Education. At present the family cannot access a satellite connection to download lessons and other basic learning resources. They have never had a satellite connection before. The School of Distance Education in Charleville prescribed the family four gigabytes per month to download basic school resources. For an immediate connection Telstra quoted Di some $500 per month to maintain the service plus $1,300 for installation and an additional $1.10 per kilometre one way for a technician to travel to install the service. If you do the maths, Deputy Speaker, what that equates to is approximately $7,000 per year for this family in rural and remote Australia just to be able to get access to internet to be able to educate their children through the School of Distance Education.

But there is a better way forward, the coalition's way forward, and I want to thank the Minister for Communications and his staff because they recognise this, as well as the Prime Minister and the leadership team. Under our plan the Brand family will be able to access a much better deal. They will be able to access and get the same satellite connection capped at a price of $50 per month with an unlimited text and data capacity.

It is a similar story for the Windorah State School. They have been unable to get a satellite connection, which means they cannot teach the national curriculum. Those children are denied access to the national curriculum because they could not get a satellite connection under the Labor Party's mismanagement of the internet service that they launched with such fanfare when they were in government.

The same applies to some pastoral properties, which are required, when cattle leave their properties, to send to Canberra the national livestock identification tag numbers of those heads of cattle. They have been unable to access the interim satellite and that has caused enormous angst for those families out there. But, as I said earlier, there is a better way forward. It is the coalition's plan that will address this issue. We are providing some $18.4 million so that the initial satellite will be able to take more. It is only the coalition that understands the people in rural and remote Australia. (Time expired)