Jun 20, 2012

Question Without Notice – National Broadband Network & Coalition MPs

Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (15:08):  My question is for the Minister representing the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. Can the minister outline the support that is apparent for the National Broadband Network?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (15:08):  I thank the member for La Trobe for her question. Indeed there is a great deal of support for the National Broadband Network out there—the National Broadband Network, which people know will transform not just communications in terms of overcoming the tyranny of distance between ourselves as an island continent with a vastly spread population but also with our neighbours in the fastest-growing region of the world, right here in Asia. That is why we want to bring Australia into the 21st century after the 19 failed plans of those opposite and develop an appropriate national broadband network.

Yesterday up in the Federation Chamber I had the opportunity, as the minister representing Senator Conroy, to hear representations about the National Broadband Network. Members will not be surprised that those backbenchers on this side of the House were pretty keen on the NBN, but what was surprising was that some people on the other side were pretty keen as well. The member for Forde was pretty keen on the National Broadband Network. That did not surprise me that much; I do not know him that well. But I must say I am surprised by the question of the member for Mitchell earlier on in parliament today which shows he pays attention to pamphlets that go out there in electorates. He might like to pay attention to his own pamphlets.

Here he is, Alex Hawke MP, federal member for Mitchell: ‘Mitchell misses out on NBN’. ‘The following suburbs: Baulkham Hills, Beaumont Hills, Bella Vista, Box Hill, Kellyville, Maraylya, Northmead, North Rocks, Rouse Hills and the vital Norwest Business Park.’

So they come in here, they vote against it, they rail against it, they offer it up in savings even though it is off budget because it is an investment that will deliver a return to the government, but they get basic economics wrong. They are in here bagging it, but out there in their electorates the member for Mitchell is at the forefront saying, ‘Give us the NBN.’ You cannot have it both ways.

This Leader of the Opposition runs, but he cannot hide, and we will hold him to account over the NBN, over the price on carbon, over all the other scare campaigns. We will also hold the Three Stooges to account for the $70 billion black hole.