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Wednesday, 27 June 2018
Page: 58


Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (15:21): Well, a big mistake may have been made by Senator Martin—that big mistake being, of course, joining the Nationals of New South Wales. But if there is one thing Senator Martin is not mistaken on it is the fact that the Liberals' copper NBN has penny-farthing speeds. He said it himself, and today we heard a response from Minister Fifield, who didn't want to go near Senator Martin's interpretation of the Liberals' NBN speeds. But Senator Martin's now sitting as part of the coalition, and he is there, on the record, admitting the speeds that Braddon voters are experiencing.

I listened to Senator Fawcett's response. I don't know what he was rambling on about, but certainly he is out of touch with the experiences of the people of Braddon. The experiences of the people of Braddon, as Senator Urquhart outlined, are not the same as those of Prime Minister Turnbull's electorate. Some 99 per cent of Prime Minister Turnbull's electorate can access speeds of 100 megabits per second. That is not the case for the people of Braddon. That just shows you how this government has walked away from regional Australia—completely walked away. And what could be the worst outcome for the people of Braddon is that Brett Whiteley would be re-elected. He was a failed member for Braddon when he was there before, and he would be exactly the same if he was back there again. That is not what we need, and I want to give this Senate an example of just how and why we need Justine Keay re-elected in Braddon.

The NBN should be a crucial tool to health services in Tasmania—in all of Tasmania. But in the electorate of Braddon, the Turnbull government's failings are leaving that community at risk of losing crucial health services. We're not talking about using your mobile phone, as Senator Fawcett talked about. We're talking about the use of NBN in our health system. We're talking about the use of NBN in our hospitals—crucial, life-saving operations and services needed in our health system. In designing the node to service for the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie precinct, the mistakes of NBN have meant that decent speeds could not be achieved. Located in the precinct is the Charles Clinic Heart Care, which provides critical care to patients. The key requirement for that heart centre was upload speeds. They needed a guaranteed 10 megabits per second to connect their cardiology equipment through to their main clinic in Launceston. But the coalition government, the NBN, refused to guarantee this speed. The speed the NBN provided was little faster than dial-up. The clinic was faced with having to close the door or significantly reduce their services. This would have been a devastating blow to patients last year. But Justine Keay understood the importance of this clinic to the health and welfare of the people of Braddon. After a public campaign by the heart clinic and Justine Keay, the NBN agreed to build a micronode closer to the hospital precinct. However, they still wouldn't guarantee the upload speed of 10 megabits per second. The heart clinic couldn't wait for the months that it was going to take for the NBN to build a new micronode and weren't happy with not having an upload speed guarantee, so they ended up partnering with Tas Communications, and Tas Communications then provided that long-term solution of a 10 megabits upload speed.

Heart disease is a leading cause of illness on the north-west coast of Tasmania. Many patients simply can't go to Launceston to see their specialists but would have been forced to do so with the Turnbull government's shoddy NBN if Justine Keay and the heart clinic hadn't campaigned. If that is not a clear example of why we need Justine Keay back in Braddon and of how the coalition government and the NBN are failing the people of Braddon and regional Australia—and I'm sure there are other examples in other regional electorates where the Liberals are failing the people who live in regional Australia—then I don't know what is. The people of Braddon and the people out in the regions deserve better than the NBN just being at 99 per cent of 100 megabits per second in Malcolm Turnbull's electorate.