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Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Page: 1262

Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (19:44): It is very important to note the great work that is being done in the member for Leichhardt's electorate; it is very important to look after our young people. But people should remember that it was under Tony Abbott as health minister that $1 billion was removed from the health budget, and that has had a real and pressing impact on people's lives—particularly young people.

Before I make my remarks about my own electorate and the very important developments of the NBN, I want to acknowledge the excellent speech given by the member for Shortland, who shares part of the Central Coast with me, and to acknowledge the wonderful work that is being done by the DALE program. Even though that program is operating a little further north than my seat, it is having a powerful impact on that community—getting young parents through high school and into the sort of training that will get them a job; helping them with their work, with their studies and with their parenting. I acknowledge the particular good work of Alison McEvoy and Maggie McPhee, who do much work down the southern end of the coast. We can see people being enabled by Labor programs in our region—and, when they are enabled, they want to get a job; and it is important that we deliver the infrastructure that enables jobs to grow. Growth and jobs: these are the signatures of a Labor government.

We are only months away from the NBN being switched on in my electorate of Robertson. Construction is well underway to connect 21,200 premises to the NBN within 12 months. Very soon households and businesses in Gosford will have access to the world's best-practice internet services, creating a new realm of business opportunities for the CBD. Already, I know that local businesses want the opportunity to innovate. They want to expand their customer base. They want to reach new markets. They want to offer jobs to locals, so that they can enjoy all the benefits of living and working on the coast—being near their families and having the support in place so that they can parent well and enjoy health, happy and active lives.

Bringing the NBN to Gosford took a united effort. It took months of collaboration to bring together a business case that NBN Co. would accept. It is a testament to the seriousness of everyone's desire to progress Gosford that so many groups, from business, government—local, state and federal—as well as countless community organisations came together to ensure that we got this great windfall for our region.

The NBN will go quite some way to addressing the systemic disadvantage that we have on the coast. Due to our geography we have very patchy ADSL services, and this absolutely inhibits business growth and opportunity. In fact, it means that we lose 40,000 of our local people every day to Sydney in a commute. That is a lot of people out of 320,000 to be on the move every single day. And the fallout through the community is really palpable. The commute costs money, but it also costs time: coastal commuters end up spending 20 to 30 hours a week just going to and from work. This is 20 hours that they are away from home; 20 hours that they are away from their loved ones; 20 hours that they are away from their community and the lifestyle that they could be having with a job on the coast. And all of this is in addition to their work commitments.

With train carriages already at bursting point, and the F3 clogged for hours every morning, the case for expanding opportunities on the coast has never been better—and this government is determined to deliver those opportunities. The NBN will provide a major advantage for our local business operators and will offer an incentive for business to move to the Central Coast. For those who might be listening to this broadcast this evening: the Central Coast is open and ready for business! Gosford will welcome you with all of its beating heart. It will welcome people who want to come and put their businesses in our great CBD and really tap into that fantastic resource of people who want a job on the coast and who want to stay on the coast.

The NBN will mean the Central Coast will be ahead—ahead of Sydney, ahead of Newcastle. We will have a structural advantage that we have never seen before because of this investment by our federal Labor government in infrastructure. The ability to send and receive big files almost instantly means that businesses that previously had to base themselves in capital cities only can pretty well set up anywhere, and I would argue that there could not be a better place in the country to set up your business right now than in the CBD of Gosford.

The NBN will bring new opportunities and more jobs for people on the coast and more opportunities for businesses to grow and to be successful. Even better is the fact that a connection to the NBN will not cost households or businesses a cent—all the equipment and installation is provided. (Time expired)