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Thursday, 31 May 2018
Page: 5241

Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities) (12:58): Let me first respond to some of the observations made by the shadow minister for regional communications. Parenthetically, is there a more useless and empty title than 'Shadow Minister for regional communications' from a party which has a track record of doing zero for regional communications? Over six years of government, what did they deliver in funding for mobile blackspots? They delivered zero—no new base stations, no new coverage, no expenditure. It is not a very busy job being the shadow minister for regional communications. You open the window for business at the start of the day and say 'no money' and slam the window down and you are done for the day. It is not very demanding.

By contrast, as the member for Grey pointed out, we are getting on with delivering mobile base stations all around the country under the $220 million investment that we have made under three stages. Already, 523 mobile base stations have been switched on and, under the three stage mobile blackspots program, we are committed to delivering 867 locations around Australia.

We also have the regional telecommunications inquiry presently underway, chaired by former senator Sean Edwards, a man from regional South Australia, who is going to bring an excellent perspective, along with his other panel members, to look at questions of regional communications and what additionally needs to be done. Let me make it very clear to the House: if you look at the track record of the coalition and you compare it to Labor's when delivering on the needs of regional Australians and meeting their communications needs, it is chalk and cheese. We are the friends of regional and rural Australians when it comes to delivering upgrades in communications networks.

Now I come to the important question of the eSafety Commissioner, and the member for Fisher has asked a series of important questions about the eSafety Commissioner. I want to acknowledge the member for Fisher's strong interest in keeping Australians safe online. I'm pleased to cast some more light on what's been achieved and the work that's presently under way. A review of the Enhancing Online Safety Act is required to be commenced prior to 1 July 2018. I'm advised that the Minister for Communications will have more to say on this in coming weeks, but be assured we are well under way in our preparation for that review. The commencement date is three years after the commencement of section 107 of the act. The review will generate a report for tabling in parliament within 15 sitting days after the completion of the report, and the report will assess whether the Enhancing Online Safety Act remains fit for purpose. Community engagement is an important priority. I'm pleased that a number of members of parliament have been able to host the eSafety Commissioner and members of her organisation in numerous community forums in recent months.

With regard to the question of image-based abuse material, I am advised that as at 30 May this year the Office of the eSafety Commissioner had received over 230 reports of image-based abuse, concerning 360 separate sites where that image-based abuse material was available. I'm also pleased to report that the commission has been successful in having image-based abuse material removed in 80 per cent of cases, despite the fact that most of those sites are hosted overseas. On average, action is taken within around nine hours—and that is extremely important—providing those who make a complaint with advice on available counselling and legal support, with links to communicate with social media services and websites, and options to contact police. On average, requests to remove intimate material are completed within five days of a request being made. The Enhancing Online Safety (Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Bill is an example of where the Turnbull government has listened and is providing what the victims have been asking for, which is effective and timely removal of non-consensually shared images. We're certainly keeping under review other options beyond the civil penalties, but this is an important area where the government—

Proposed expenditure agreed to.