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Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Page: 7638


Senator POLLEY (Tasmania) (15:03): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Communications (Senator Fifield) to a question without notice asked by Senator McAllister today relating to the National Broadband Network.

We know that recently there has been a change in the leadership of this country. We now have Malcolm Turnbull as the Prime Minister. He has said quite up-front that he believes his government is a government of the 21st century. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would respectfully suggest that he should revisit that statement. Quite clearly, some of the worst parts of the policies that were brought down by the Abbott government are still in place. You can change the leader, but you have not changed the policies. It is still the same terrible, out-of-touch, harsh policies that this government is carrying on with.

If you look at Mr Turnbull's own experience, we can see what he did about the rollout of the NBN when he was Minister for Communications. He has doubled the cost of the rollout of the NBN and given us less than half of the quality of service that the Australian community has demanded and deserves. He may have been a formidable opponent in the past, but what has overshadowed his performance has been the mistakes that he made in the communications portfolio.

We had a Labor government that initiated the rollout of the NBN. They set Tasmania up as the pilot state to have the first rollout. What has this government done? It has stopped or slowed down the rollout of the NBN, and is now saying to rural and regional Australia, 'You are only worthy of a second rate system that will cost more money and will take much longer to roll out.' That was the performance of the now Prime Minister when he was the Minister for Communications.

To top that off we have a failed assistant minister responsible for aged care now having the responsibility of the portfolio of communications. In his former responsibilities as assistant minister responsible for aged care we know that he did not have his eye on the ball for the last two years. He failed dismally in aged care. The sector knows that and the Australian community certainly knows that.

All I can say is that we on this side will continue to keep an eye on the new Minister for Communications, because this country cannot afford, and the economy cannot afford, to have another failure. We are expecting a greater performance when it comes to the rollout of the NBN. Quite seriously, the cost has blown out. From those on that side who harped and harped when they were in opposition, what have they delivered when it comes to the rollout of the NBN? A much slower service and a much, much more costly service.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Don't be silly.

Senator POLLEY: Senator Macdonald, I will take that interjection—because no-one listens to you. No-one listens to you. But as somebody who continually bleats in this chamber about representing the great state of Queensland you should be appalled by your government's record when it comes to rolling out the NBN in your home state.

So that is what we are left with. That is the legacy of Mr Turnbull as communications minister.

Those on the other side who bleated and made all sorts of accusations about the time we changed our leadership when we were in government have done exactly the same thing. The only difference is that, on the other side, they have the same old policies and the same arrogance, believing that they know it all. They do not listen to the sectors. They do not take advice. The government might have changed leaders, but they certainly have not changed their policy priorities.

We know how important the NBN can be, will be and should be to the Australian economy. We know the benefit it will bring to the tourism industry. We heard the responses to Senator Bushby's question in, I would have to say, a very weak performance from the new minister for tourism, Senator Colbeck, when trying to promote the fantastic Tasmanian food and wine event tonight. He could not even sell that. We know the NBN has already delivered great outcomes for the Tasmanian economy, and Senator Bushby should be very much aware of that.

This is a government that is yet again failing the Australian people when it comes it to the rollout of the NBN. (Time expired)