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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7110


Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (16:57): I am pleased today to rise to speak about the Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy portfolio. I particularly want to highlight the importance of the National Broadband Network to my electorate. People right across the nation, but particularly in Geelong and the Western District, fully appreciate the importance of having a high-speed national broadband network. The reality is that when the Labor government was first elected to government there were telecommunications black holes right throughout this nation. The National Broadband Network is our policy response to those telecommunications black spots. Indeed, time and time again, small businesses come and see me and want to know more about the National Broadband Network. They recognise that the old copper network is no longer able to provide the telecommunications needed to sustain their businesses.

I was very pleased that last week I was able to announce that some of the Colac Otway shire will be receiving some of the fixed wireless network in 2014. The Colac Otway shire has the Great Ocean Road and the Otways, which are very important to the economy. For decades, those communities have constantly been requesting access to high-speed networks to enable them to compete on the world stage, particularly in tourism. I look forward to working closely with the ministers in this portfolio area and to continue to talk to them.

I also want to particularly talk about the digital switchover, which is a very important reform that will provide Australians with new technologies to be able to watch TV. It is fantastic to be able to see many regional Australians being able to have access to multiple channels and to be able to see them on their high-definition TVs. The reality is that without government investment in this area the digital switchover would not take place. I am very pleased that we are working in this particular area.

In the short time I have left, I say that there is no doubt that telecommunications is a critical issue to my electorate. It is important that we are able to give regional Victorians the same opportunity as those in the cities. It is important that we put in place a program to enable people to watch digital TV in their homes and to have a diversity of TV opportunities. I want to commend the government for the efforts that the ministers have been putting into not only delivering the National Broadband Network but also the critical nature of making sure that we meet the digital switchover, which we will do.