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Thursday, 24 February 2011
Page: 1448

Mr LYONS (4:24 PM) —I rise to speak on the matter of public importance put forward that we, the Gillard Labor government, have not delivered value for money in broadband. The MPI from Malcolm Turnbull, the member for Wentworth, today demonstrates the Liberals’ lack of understanding when it comes to broadband—and he was not even here to hear his own supporters. Is he out with Joe, sorting who will be the leader by Easter? Malcolm said last year—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—The member for Bass ought to know that he ought to refer to colleagues by their titles or their electorate.

Mr LYONS —Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. Last year the member for Wentworth said that 12 megabytes should be enough for anybody. We, the Gillard government, feel that Australians deserve better. Today I want to put on record my absolute support for the National Broadband Network. Let me tell you why.

Tasmanians have been putting up with some of the slowest, most expensive broadband in Australia, and the Labor government’s National Broadband Network is going to put an end to that. I am proud to be part of a government that is putting infrastructure on the agenda. After years and years of neglect from the high taxers, the party of ‘no’, we are getting on with the job of running the country and preparing for the future. Historically, Tasmania has the lowest proportion of households of any state or territory with broadband, at 49 per cent, compared with the Australian average of 62 per cent. But the federal Liberals have no plan to bring Tasmania up to speed with the mainland, let alone to give it world-class broadband. Even the state Liberals in Tasmania know that the NBN is crucial, and I think it is high time that the high taxers, the party of ‘no’, came on board. The NBN is going to transform Tasmania’s economy, along with the rest of our nation. I cannot overestimate the difference it is going to make to people in my home state.

I am lucky that the first NBN services were officially launched, in August last year, in my electorate, in the area of Scottsdale. Stage 2 includes other areas in my electorate, such as George Town. Under our National Broadband Network, the economy will be strengthened. It is the single largest infrastructure investment this nation has ever seen. It will modernise Australia and connect big cities and regional centres. The people in my electorate of Bass are very excited about the NBN. They are excited about the NBN because it will improve business productivity and allow businesses to be competitive on a national and international scale. The only concerns that my office has had about broadband is that of constituents wanting to be connected sooner. I have not had complaints that this is a waste of money, a waste of taxpayer’s dollars—not at all. My constituents know value for money.

If those opposite were keen on accountability and value for money, they would have done a cost-benefit analysis of the Adelaide-Darwin railway or the privatisation of Telstra. Where was the Productivity Commission when the cost-benefit studies were to be done on that? Where was the cost-benefit study on the $10 billion water plan? Did you do a cost-benefit analysis on the OPEL regional broadband plan? And what about the $11 billion black hole? The highest-taxing party this nation has ever seen, the party of ‘no’, could not add up. The NBN will directly support 25,000 jobs. I ask those opposite to tell me of their plans to create 25,000 jobs. I doubt they can. The alternative of the party of ‘no’ is to have towers and copper, which members of the opposition have consistently complained about. They are the NIMBYs: not in my back yard. Our plan gives better speed, and the amenity of Australia will be enhanced by the broadband fibre compared with towers and copper, which is the opposition’s plan.

The Liberal Party’s attitude to broadband reminds me of the time when the Americans were first embracing the Edison telephone system. Sir William Preece, Engineer-in-Chief of the British Post Office, decided that the UK would not need a telephone system, as they had a superabundance of messengers and errand boys to run telegrams. Tony Abbott and his colleagues want to send our country backwards by pulling the plug on the NBN. We heard during the election campaign that the NBN would be the first thing to go if they were elected. Australia is thankful they were not. Australians cannot trust the Liberal Party on broadband. I need a spare set of hands to count how many failed policies they have on broadband. Was it 19 or 20 failed plans? And they still have no decent policy.

Consideration interrupted.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I remind the honourable member for Bass of the provisions of standing order 64. He should refer to the Leader of the Opposition by his title.