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Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Page: 4239

Mr COULTON (ParkesThe Nationals Chief Whip) (16:54): As the Nationals Whip, I am probably closer to the horse and buggy than most in this place. I will tell you something else, Mr Deputy Speaker: if it were up to the Labor Party, that is where country Australia would still be. The Labor Party's contribution today has been like that back-of-the-envelope service that Senator Conroy gave us—it has been intermittent and garbled. That is what their contribution today has been, like their back-of-the-envelope service.

In 2013, when the coalition came to government, I asked the representatives of the NBN to come into my office and give me a briefing on where we were up to. 'Just out of interest,' I said, 'when on the plan is my home town on to be connected?' It was 2024. I am pleased to say that it has now been moved up to 2017—next year. As of tomorrow, there will be 4,600 houses NBN ready in Dubbo, and by the end of June there will be 16,000 premises connected. There are houses in Wellington and Gulgong; Coolah already has it. The NBN is rolling out now at an escalating pace and people can actually see that they are going to get the service.

On Monday the Sky Muster satellite came online. People in my electorate can now get the Sky Muster satellite service. There is an extra reason for wanting that satellite service in my electorate—for six years not one cent went into the mobile phone coverage. The only connection that these people are going to have with the outside world is through this satellite. The member for Moreton talks about someone from Jerrys Plains or Emu Hills or wherever it was who was distressed. I bet she has a mobile phone that works. I bet she can make a call when she wants to. The people in my electorate around Condobolin, Wanaaring, Nevertire and Upper Horton cannot even make a phone call. They are running multimillion-dollar businesses and they cannot make a phone call. They are excited about the Sky Muster satellite going up. They are excited that the towns they are dealing with in their businesses will be connected to fast broadband. They are excited that the wireless network that is going up in places like Gilgandra and Cooks Gap is going to make a difference to their lives.

It is all right for the former Prime Minister and the Minister for Communications to nut out these lofty aspirations on the back of an envelope while they are sipping chardonnay somewhere over the desert in the VIP, but when it comes to implementation and actually doing something like digging up the dirt and laying cables members of the Labor Party have got no idea—just like they have no idea with anything else of a practical nature to do with running the country. It is like doing a university assignment without any practical understanding of how things should be implemented. Under the present Prime Minister, and when he was the Minister for Communications, ably assisted by the member for Bradfield, we are now seeing the NBN being rolled out on track in a timely manner.

What does this mean? I can tell you what it means for someone like Gina Terbutt, who runs Dust'n'Boots, an online clothing business that employs four or five people. She is 16 kilometres out of Warialda and sells work wear, smart casual wear and business wear online all over Australia. She is relying on a patched-up phone service for connection and is greatly frustrated by dropouts. Dust'n'Boots, operating from regional Australia, will now be able to hook up to a reliable, regular satellite service and be connected not only to their customers right around Australia but also to their suppliers in Indonesia, China and other places around the world. The Lewises at Jac Wagyu sell product from their wagyu cattle farm. With the connection of the satellite they will be able to operate their business much more effectively.

Also important is the Mobile Black Spot Program the member for Bradfield oversaw, which saw 499 phone towers go up. The next round is coming along nicely. We are going to be able to have businesses in regional Australia, in my electorate, for the first time having something that people in other parts of Australia take for granted. (Time expired)