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Monday, 15 November 2010
Page: 2424

Ms BRODTMANN (8:36 PM) —I rise tonight in support of the National Broadband Network and to defend it from those who seek to destroy it. The NBN is a significant investment in the future infrastructure and technological needs of this nation. The Gillard government is committed to investing in the latest technologies so that all Australians can fully participate in the information revolution. To contrast with this, those opposite take pot shots at the NBN and feign concern about transparency and adequate process. They do this because they know they have no viable alternative. It is far easier for them to attack the NBN than to create an alternative vision that the Leader of the Opposition—by his own admission—does not understand.

My electorate of Canberra embraces the NBN. The people of my electorate understand its potential and I am already fielding questions from them about how and when it will be rolled out in Canberra and what it is going to look like. The impact that this will have on people’s lives is well understood in my electorate. The people of my electorate understand the significance that the NBN will have in improving the delivery of health outcomes. In particular, I would like to draw attention to the efforts of HealthCube, which was founded by two Canberra doctors who believed IT services could be used to improve the outcome of patients in aged care. This service is already on the cutting edge of what can be done with technology. Just imagine what could be done if they had access to the NBN.

The people of my electorate also understand the impact that the NBN would have on education in schools, where students would be able to gain information quickly to collaborate with other schools and students not just down the hall but also around the world. Seniors in my electorate also understand the significance of the NBN. During the election campaign and since then I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of older Australians who have approached me and commended the government on the NBN. They speak to me about the potential of the NBN to connect them to their communities and to their families, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren, to allow them to gain information and engage with the world in spite of their age and mobility. They speak to me about the ability of the NBN to link them to health care and to provide them with better health outcomes.

These are just some of the innovations and opportunities provided by the NBN, but there are many more. The NBN is not just important for the things that we can think of now; it is important for all the innovations and new ideas we have not thought of yet that will become a reality in the decades to come with just a little bit of imagination. Who would have thought the internet would turn into the powerhouse it is now? I remember that in India 15 years ago there was one service provider and 120 connections. Now look at what has happened. You can do your retail therapy on it. You can Facebook on it. You can do everything. Who would have thought that 15 years ago? Who would have thought when the telephone was introduced to Australia in the 19th century that we would have a global economy dependent on that little bit of copper wire?

The NBN is as much about the next 50 years as it is about the next five. The Gillard government is positioning Australia for the next wave of innovation in technology and communication. My electorate understands this. The people of Canberra understand this. Sadly, the opposition does not. While those opposite might like to say this debate is about transparency, it is in reality about one side having a positive vision for the future and one side trying to destroy that vision.

The NBN has been reviewed by McKinsey and Co. and KPMG. They both endorsed it. They found that it would transform the lives of Australians, that it is achievable and viable and that it would provide a good return on investment. This is an exciting opportunity and development for this country, and I am proud to be part of the government that has developed this vision. I am proud to be able to go back to my electorate of Canberra and talk about the positive change the NBN will bring to all sorts of people across the electorate. I am proud to be able to speak about the advances in the delivery of education and health care and the new jobs that will be made possible by the NBN—including jobs that we cannot even think of at the moment.

I have no doubt that these advances will stand up to the test of history. Then what will those opposite be able to say? How will history judge them? The NBN is too important a project to get bogged down in the standard partisan politics. I accept there is a place for appropriate parliamentary scrutiny and oversight. However, that is not what this bill is for. This bill seeks to use legitimate parliamentary processes for illegitimate means. The National Broadband Network Financial Transparency Bill 2010 is about the member for Wentworth carrying out the mandate given to him by the Leader of the Opposition to destroy the NBN. The Australian people deserve better than that. The people of Canberra deserve better than that. I urge the committee to support the NBN and to reject this bill.