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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 116


Mr RIPOLL (4:31 PM) —You know a government have failed when they no longer talk about policy and no longer come into this place talking about the future of Australians, the future of this country or the future of the economy. You know they have failed, you know they are panicked and you know they are spooked when they come in here and just attack other people. Personal attacks—nothing more, nothing less—are all they have left in their little kitbag of election-winning strategies. It is a disgrace, and the government should be held accountable for it.

What disturbs me even more is that this is a catch-up government. After 11 years it is left drunk with power, lazy with contempt and arrogant with entitlement. This is a government that no longer sees its role as providing anything fair and decent for the Australian people. This is a government that no longer sees its responsibility as achieving something for the future good of this nation or the nation’s own benefit. This is a government that sees itself simply now as getting re-elected and retaining the halls of power—this is all that it is now about. It is not about the future of Australia; it is about its own future. After 11 years we see catch-up politics in a whole range of areas—in climate change, in infrastructure, in education and, in particular, in broadband.

In the case of broadband, it is a disgraceful attempt by the government in the five minutes to midnight before an election to come up with a scrambled together plan. I call it a flawed plan, but, even worse, it is ‘fraudband’. This is a government that is fraudulently going out to the people with maps. I know people cannot see it on broadcast, obviously, but the government is sending information to the electorate of Oxley in Queensland and claiming that 100 per cent of people in Oxley will be covered, but, when I look at the map, I do not see any of the government’s broadband spots contained in Oxley, and the red marks around them barely touch into Oxley. But what is more disturbing is that the good people of Oxley completely miss out in this government’s plan. In areas like Springfield, where there are black spots of broadband, there is nothing. In areas like Forest Lake, where there are broadband black spots, there is nothing from the government. In areas such as Algester, which once belonged to the electorate of Moreton but is now in Oxley, I can guarantee the people I will be fighting for their broadband future and for their kids, but there is nothing from this government—not one bit of broadband. At Seventeen Mile Rocks, another area where there are broadband black spots, there is nothing at all from this government.

This government has the audacity to come into this place and claim that it will be spending more than $1 billion of taxpayers’ money to somehow provide 99 per cent coverage. The reality is that it is just not true. This is a failed government, with failed policy, that is out there telling people porkies. The government is copying Labor’s policies, and all they are is light—‘Labor light’ policies. It has no policies of its own and it has certainly not been truthful about what it will cost consumers to get the legendary wireless and WiMAX into the home and fulfil the claim that 99 per cent of all people in Australia will be covered. The government is claiming 100 per cent in Oxley, but when I look at the nodes and where they will be it is more like zero per cent. That is the reality. That is what has been provided to me via information that was slipped under my door at five minutes to midnight because this government cannot take the decent time after 11 years to actually work on some real policy.

I have a couple of questions for the Prime Minister and for the minister for communications: can they confirm advice from Telstra and Austar that the unwired signal—the government’s WiMAX broadband network—is likely to drop out or denigrate whenever a cordless phone, the garage door opener or the microwave is used? Have they addressed that issue? I know that they have not. Can they also confirm that there is no existing laptop computer in Australia that will be able to access the network without attaching a special network card, which will cost up to $300, to protect that network? We will not get any answers from the government on that because they are not interested in that either. They are just interested in the Textor polling and the propaganda that they have been out there getting information for.

I further ask: would the Prime Minister confirm the assessment of Gartner wireless and mobile research director, Robin Simpson, that said, ‘Access to the government’s WiMAX broadband network will cost users in regional Australia up to $1,000 in installation costs.’ Is the government going to fork out for that as well? I do not think so. It is hoodwinking the Australian public and the Australian community into believing that at five minutes to midnight it actually cares about people’s broadband future. Labor brought this issue to the table, and the only reason this government cares anything about the future of broadband is for its own future—for its electoral future. It has nothing to do with consumers or the future of Australians in Australia. People will not be hoodwinked. They know who cares about them and it is not this government. (Time expired)