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Thursday, 21 June 2018
Page: 88


Senator O'SULLIVAN (Queensland) (18:19): I'd like to consider document No. 26 on the National Broadband Network. In doing so, I want to bring to the attention of the chamber the great work that the National Party and the coalition have done in the area of communications. I have just listened to Senator Cameron, for longer than I wanted to, and I realised from his contribution that of course he was missing the mark—on everything! They've spent two days attacking the government's legislation to create tax cuts for Australians. And not once did he make a mention of the need for—nor, indeed, did he endorse—the black spot program that's happened with telecommunications.

What Senator Cameron has clearly demonstrated over a long, long period of time here is that all he wants to do is to focus on protecting the CFMEU. If you were to go back and have a look at his contributions over time, you'd find that every contribution is punctured with protecting that criminal agency, the CFMEU. He wants to lay down that we're bullies. Jiminy darn cricket! We wouldn't blow wind up the whistle of their kilt—to use one of your national references, Senator Cameron—of the behaviour of the CFMEU. Are the CFMEU interested in whether our people in regional and rural Australia can make phone calls? Are they interested as to whether they can, at any stage, access the internet to be able to conduct their business? No. No—not one word. I've been in here four years—not one word out of Senator Cameron about the bush. And, of course, we know the reason for that. It is because he simply doesn't know where it is. The only bushes he sees are between his house and the airport in Sydney on his way to Canberra. So he comes in here and attacks us and ignores speaking on and representing the people of western New South Wales. I know Senator Cameron's a senator for the city—and not just for the city, he's a senator for job sites in the city. He's an extension of the CFMEU in this place. He defends them. They dispatch him. I bet he gets a call every other day so that they give him something, here, to take on Senator Cash.

The problem is, Senator Cameron: she's a bit hard for you to swallow. You're not in her class. Her ability to maintain her dignity through this has been enormous. She does care about telecommunications; she does care about the Black Spot Program; she does care to see that Australians get an equal opportunity to be able to use telecommunications—to access the internet, to speak on and to look after the interests of their children around education and a whole range of things.

So, I would like to pose a challenge for Senator Cameron over the next little bit: I'll bet you that you can't get through a contribution where you don't mention the CFMEU or Senator Cash. You've had a crack. I've got to tell you: one thing you'll get full points for—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, please direct your comments to the chair.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Thank you. One thing that Senator Cameron will get full points for—nearly 99½—is for failed persistence. You can be as persistent as you like—and, to use the words of the minister, just because—and, in fact, not just because; especially because—Senator Cameron says it, doesn't make it so.

So I've got to tell you, Senator Cameron: the challenge for you is to start thinking about all Australians. Senator Cameron should start thinking about their interests and put as much energy into supporting regional and rural Australia as the great people who create the wealth—the people who created the leather under his suit pants, and created his suit pants, his cotton shirt and his spectacles. All of that has come from primary production. If he took enough interest, he would have been talking on this National Broadband Network and all the work that we have done and the billions of dollars of investment that we have had in this country to try to bring people of rural and regional Australia up to a standard where they can at least compete with their businesses. We tried to get some of these good folk a bit of a tax cut today. That's been resisted. So it's time that they broaden their vocabulary and start to focus on some of the issues for rural and regional Australia and leave the minister alone.