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Transcript of doorstop: Parliament House, Canberra: 18 June 2007



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SENATOR STEPHEN CONROY SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Transcript, Doorstop, Parliament House 18 June 2007

STEPHEN CONROY: Well Labor welcomes that John Howard has finally discovered that Australians have been crying out for true high speed broadband but unfortunately this is just a quick fix designed to get John Howard through the election and what we are seeing is John Howard preparing to lock millions of Australians into a second class service that will be delivered by this quick-fix program.

This will be the eighteenth quick-fix program that John Howard has had in his eleven years of government.

It is like climate change, John Howard has been a sceptic on climate change, he’s been a sceptic on broadband. Its only in the shadows of an election that John Howard is putting forward a band-aid to get him through the next election.

REPORTER: They’ve gone one-up on you and they’re going to deliver fast broadband to 99% of Australia?

STEPHEN CONROY: Well they’re not going to be delivering true broadband to 99% of Australia. Kevin Rudd has a plan to deliver 98% of Australians minimum, minimum speeds 40 times faster than they currently get. John Howard’s plan will not be delivering anything near that to millions of Australians who will be locked into a wireless future.

And here’s the challenge for John Howard. If he believes that wireless is so good that he’s prepared to put millions of Australians onto a wireless technology then he should cut his fibre connection off, he should connect his home, his office and his department to a wireless broadband solution and let’s see how long he’s prepared to live with that, but he’s prepared to condemn millions of Australians to a wireless future.

REPORTER: Do you think people will differentiate the diffences or will they just hear broadband from both sides and (inaudible) ?

STEPHEN CONROY: Well the question that John Howard is simply trying to make broadband go away. Kevin Rudd has put forward a vision for the future that is about technologies for the future, about productivity for the future about what’s best for the eceonomy, what’s best for our families, what’s best for our

small businesses, what’s best for our children - that’s what Kevin Rudd is putting forward. John Howard is simply putting forward a quick fix for the election and what people who have got access to wireless, particularly those people out there in regional and rural Australia have already got access to wireless - they know that they are going to be sold a second-class outcome. John Howard is a sceptic, he doesn’t get it.

REPORTER: Are you pleased to see that Labor’s still ahead in the polls?

STEPHEN CONROY: We always believed that the polls would get closer, we’ve said that from day one. And John Howard is a very clever politician, he will say anything, do anything, promise anything to win this next election and it’s just like what you’re seeing with broadband. He doesn’t believe it, he’s been dragged

screaming and kicking. After 11 long years of ignoring broadband, in the shadows of an election, John Howard has a quick -fix designed just to get him through the next election.

REPORTER: Do you think it’s trending back to the government or do you think this is more rusted-on Labor support, now you can count on them as opposed to them being soft?

STEPHEN CONROY: Well as we said we’ve always said the sorts of figures that have been around over the last couple of months would be closing and there would be a much closer election outcome. No election has been decided by the sorts of figures we’ve been seeing, Australians don’t swing that wildly in the lead up to elections, so we’ve always believed that this will be a close election and Kevin Rudd has said that consistently.

REPORTER: Do you think things like broadband though are going to help the Government close that gap even further, that they’re picking up on the sorts of issues that Labor’s identified that the public want?

STEPHEN CONROY: Well it’s like with climate change, John Howard has been a sceptic, he’s been dragged screaming and kicking to make this broadband announcement - we’ve seen for 3 years now that Helen Coonan and John Howard have been saying services are up to scratch, they’ve been saying that Australians who love in metropolitan Australia aren’t complaining about they’re broadband speeds. Well here’s the proof that John Howard has been dragged to this - they’ve been in denial on broadband like on climate change and we are seeing a quick-fix for the election. Kevin Rudd has presented a vision for the future, John Howards is simply putting forward a quick-fix for the election.

REPORTER: But do you think if he keeps picking up on issues like broadband, like work force reform, if he keeps picking up on the issues that have been costing him votes - could he close the gap?

STEPHEN CONROY: I think Australians will see through John Howard’s quick fixes - Australians will see Kevin Rudd’s plan to deliver a minimum - a minimum of 40 times faster broadband to 98% of Australians as a genuine national vision which is about infrastructure and nation building and they will see that John Howard is just putting together a quick-fix for the election.

REPORTER: But Labor’s plan relies on %5billion of tax-payers money, do you think that people might prefer the government’s plan that is completely funded by the private sector?

STEPHEN CONROY: Well that’s not right. John Howard in his radio announcement makes it clear ‘we’ve already spent $4 billion on broadband’ and they’re about to spend another billion so let’s be clear about this furphy about whether there is public money involved - Labor is proud of the fact that we are committing up to $4.7 billion in partnership in a joint venture - public private partnership, to deliver a national high speed network to 98% of Australians. Its not just a quick fix that’s been cobbled together so he can say that he’s got some broadband plan - Australians will see though that.

Thanks very much.