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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 124

Mr BOWEN (9:30 AM) —Last week the government announced its broadband package for Australia, and opposition members received under their door a preprepared press release which said, ‘Fast and affordable broadband for Prospect.’ I thought that was very good and I listened intently to the Prime Minister’s speech in the House. He tabled certain maps and pointed out that the red dots were the best level of service and that red on the map was good. I opened my map with anticipation but I saw no red at all. Almost the entire electorate of Prospect was in green. I looked up to see what the green meant and it said it was OPEL wireless WiMax. I then did some research. Here is what the experts say about the government’s broadband plan and WiMax. Bill Tolpegin, the vice-president of planning for EarthLink, said:

Nobody has high-bandwidth, low-cost networks that deliver. They are not telling the truth, not even the WiMax vendors.

What did others have to say? A respected expert from the University of Wollongong said—

Mrs Gash —Who?

Mr BOWEN —Mr Dutkiewicz. He said:

If I had the choice of fibre or wireless in the home, I would go for fibre straightaway, no questions asked.

The introduction said:

The wireless internet at the heart of the Federal government’s $1.9 billion rural broadband plan will never match the speed of the fibre networks promised by Labor.

This is the government trying to play catch-up on a matter which is very important across the country. It is very important in rural and regional areas and also very important in metropolitan areas. The people of Horsley Park have broadband now, only thanks to a campaign run recently. There are still people in metropolitan areas in my electorate who ring me regularly and say that they cannot get broadband because they live too far from an exchange. What is the way to fix that? Fibre to the node, not this ridiculous WiMax wireless plan, which has left my electorate completely bereft.

The Prime Minister said in the House of Representatives, in question time, that this was a wonderful initiative and the more red on the map the better. I say to the people in my electorate that we have been dudded by this government. Why? Because we are not one of the top 40 seats. We are not a targeted seat of the government. We did not get special treatment. In an election year this government is playing catch-up and trying to catch up with the initiative that Labor has put out—

Mr Ciobo interjecting

Mr BOWEN —How many of the 40 seats are over there? I bet Stirling is one of the top 40 seats. The member for Stirling needs all the help he can get. I bet Bonner is also a top 40 seat. And La Trobe is a top 40 seat. Is Gilmore a top 40 seat? Perhaps not. The member for Gilmore does not need the help that the other members do. The complete rorting of this broadband plan is being done for cheap political purposes. People in Western Sydney and other areas are missing out. (Time expired)