Jun 19, 2012

APPROPRIATION BILL (NO. 1) 2012-2013: Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Portfolio – Consideration in Detail: Rollout of the National Broadband Network

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (17:20):  The shadow minister might or might not be aware that, in regard to the questions and issues that he raised, fixed wireless and satellite services will be rolled out around the country. He might not also be aware, but I think he probably does know, to be fair, that the ACCC process about Telstra with regard to access to sites meant that NBN had access to 100 sites. That is why those sites and projects are being rolled out now. They did not have full access until that occurred. He knows that that is the case. He pretends he does not, but he does know. The opposition are being completely disingenuous about that because they want it to fail. The fact is that this has been an extremely successful program. The fact is that members of the shadow minister’s own party have come in here and asked for access, such as the member for Forde. They know that it in fact will be a success.

The shadow minister says that he has an alternative policy to the National Broadband Network. Where is it? There is no policy document. There is no shadow cabinet decision. There is no funding commitment. There is just his leader saying he will scrap it and use the savings elsewhere, even though we know that there are not actually any savings. That is why he is not the shadow Treasurer or the shadow finance minister, because the opposition have an absolute allergy when it comes to getting anywhere near any economic competence. They fear it.

But the final comment of the shadow minister also cannot be allowed to go unaddressed. For the shadow minister to talk about advertising of programs is quite breathtaking, when what we saw from the former government during the Work Choices campaign was completely misleading advertising—the ads, the mouse pads and everything else, whilst people were being done over in the workplace. That was what we saw from the opposition. Indeed, when the shadow minister was a minister we saw a fair bit of advertising about water and the environment. They did not have a policy to do anything about climate change, but they had advertising. That is all they had—just advertising; they did not have a policy. When they knocked off the shadow minister as the Leader of the Liberal Party, they said that climate change is crap. Then the sceptics took over the show. But before then, they did not mind doing the odd advertising campaign. If they had spent as much on environmental programs and on programs on water as they spent on advertising then we would have actually had some progress under the former government. But they did not. It is a bit rich for the member for Wentworth to come in here and complain about expenditure on government advertising, when the National Broadband Network advertising is quite rightly informing communities about the opportunities that the National Broadband Network will bring.