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Politicians down for extra day

Broadcast: 25/11/2010

Reporter: Susan McDonald

Federal MPs will spend an extra day in Parliament to finalise the vote on the National Broadband


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: It's been a long, tumultuous year for federal politicians and it just got

Today was supposed to be the final day of sittings before the summer break, but Parliament hasn't
yet passed legislation crucial to building the National Broadband Network.

The Senate will sit tomorrow to continue debating the bill and MPs will return to Canberra on
Monday to finalise the vote.

From Canberra, Susan McDonald reports.

SUSAN MCDONALD, REPORTER: After a momentous year that delivered minority rule, it's time for a
little reflection.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, MANAGER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS: This government has passed 51 pieces of
legislation through this House.

SUSAN MCDONALD: It's also the season for making lists.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas, superannuation, carer recognition...

SPEAKER: Minister! Minister will resume his seat.

BRONWYN BISHOP, LIBERAL: Could the Leader of Government Business please return his list to the

SUSAN MCDONALD: He was missing one pivotal piece: the bill to split up Telstra to clear the way for
the National Broadband Network.

In the Senate, debate on super-fast broadband moved at super-slow speed.

CHRIS EVANS, GOVERNMENT SENATE LEADER: Are they seriously interested in debating the bill or are
they interested in wrecking and preventing the Senate considering the bill?

SUSAN MCDONALD: Labor has the numbers, but the Opposition has scores of amendments to fill the time
and delay a vote.

BARNABY JOYCE, NATIONALS SENATE LEADER: We're prepared to sit here until Christmas, as are we, as
are we!

GEORGE BRANDIS, OPPOSITION FRONTBENCHER: Openness in government, parliamentary scrutiny,

SUSAN MCDONALD: Senators sat late into the night. Even early on it was known that progress would be

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Extremely slow. Some might argue it's as slow as a Coalition senator.

SUSAN MCDONALD: And so Lower House MPs were sent home to be back on Monday, but not before the
final Question Time of the year.

SPEAKER: Are there any questions?

SUSAN MCDONALD: Frustrations spilled over.

SPEAKER: Order! Order!

SUSAN MCDONALD: And the digital divide was on show.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: Apparently they don't like progress. Which part of time would they
like us to go back to? 1960? 1930? 1910? Which age would they pick as the party of the past?

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: Why would anyone trust this Government not to make a complete and
utter shambolic mess of the National Broadband Network?

SUSAN MCDONALD: The Opposition unveiled a new broadband battleground: the front lawns in suburb
across the country.

JOANNA GASH, LIBERAL MP: I refer the Prime Minister to the comments of Natalie Osborne of Kiama in
my electorate, following the destruction of her nature strip by the National Broadband Network

LUKE HARTSUYKER, OPPOSITION FRONTBENCHER: I seek to table these photographs of these ugly cables
that are intruding in the local neighbourhood.

JULIA GILLARD: Is that really the position, the Luddite position of a political party that calls
itself the Liberal Party, Mr Speaker?

SUSAN MCDONALD: And so the year meanders towards a close on a topic likely to dominate much of next
year too. When the curtain finally does fall, it'll only briefly end political hostilities.

The Opposition's sustained assault on the National Broadband Network gives a hint of the campaign
to come.

But for now, some words of grace rarely heard.

JULIA GILLARD: To the Opposition Leader and his wife and family, I trust he takes a long, long
holiday that would very much - 12 months. 12 months would be perfect.

TONY ABBOTT: I should acknowledge that the Prime Minister has been a ferocious competitor this year
and I should congratulate her on her success.

She may not have won the election handsomely, but she certainly won the negotiation and that takes
considerable skill.

SUSAN MCDONALD: Some seasonal peace and goodwill.

TONY ABBOTT: What time should I meet you, Julia?

JULIA GILLARD: Do you want to just come to the office, say, just before 12 and we'll go.

TONY ABBOTT: OK, I'll see you there, a couple of minutes before 12. OK, thank you.


SUSAN MCDONALD: With Christmas around the corner.

Susan McDonald, Lateline.