Subjects: $5 million for the 5 Lands Walk; National Broadband Network; Labor’s support for Small Business; Polls; The Real Choice at the Election; Warren Truss’s plan to rip money out of regional communities.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It is fantastic to be at this spectacular location here in Copacabana with Deborah O’Neill, the Federal Labor Member for Robertson, with Patrick Spedding and Dave Abrahams who are local businessmen, and in Dave Abrahams’ case he is a broadband investment campaigner.
We are here today for two announcements. The first of which is how the local community, and visitors to this wonderful coast line, can take advantage of the spectacular views that are behind us.
Each and every year in June, around about the time of Solstice, there is a 5 Lands Walk here along the coastline. But its future is uncertain. What we’re announcing today is $2.5 million from the Federal Government and $2.5 million from the local Gosford Council in order to secure the future of the 5 Lands Walk.
Fourteen-thousand people participated this year in this walk. What it will enable is that at each of the stops for facilities to be upgrades so that it can attract more people and so that there will be an even more secure future for what is a great event.
It’s a great community event that involves different activities at each of the five stops along the walk. And I might ask Deb O’Neill to make some comments and then we’ll have some chat about the NBN.
DEBORAH O’NEILL: First of all can I thank you, Deputy Prime Minister, for this wonderful announcement for our local community today. The vision of the 5 Lands Walk isn’t that old, but it has certainly captured the imagination of local people and it’s bringing tourists from near and far on one magic day every year.
As the Deputy Prime Minister said, 14,000 people take the walk from MacMasters Beach Surf Club along through to Copacabana, up over the hill here, down and through Winnie Bay, which is just behind us, into Avoca along the beach to North Avoca, and then up over the Skillion and out to Terrigal to finish the 5 Lands Walk.
At each of those lands the community has been growing and celebrating. Not only do we acknowledge the Darkinjung and Guringgai people who are the traditional owners of this land, and they have their overlay and underlay within and without the whole of this walk. We also have taken to celebrating the multicultural nature of Australia with the five lands also taking on five different country identities that vary from year to year.
It’s a celebration of music, dance and art, and members of the art world on the Central Coast are represented here today to welcome this announcement. They have been working in partnership with our local schools as well; Kingcumber Primary School, Avoca Primary School, Terrigal Primary School all participating. So this local event for us on one day is growing and growing.
The total of a $5 million investment, roughly $1 million in each land, will allow very important capital works to go ahead. To make this a walk – not just for one day – indeed to make it a walk for people to come to see this beautiful coastline every day of the year; 365 days a year. So it’s a powerful economic driver of tourism for us here on the coast.
So a very important commitment to the coast, a commitment that grows jobs, a commitment that enhances community connection, a commitment that celebrates the beauty of this wonderful coastline right here on the Central Coast of New South Wales in the seat of Robertson and I couldn’t be more proud to stand alongside the Deputy Prime Minister to make this announcement this morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Deb. We also want today to talk about one of the great choices that is before the Australian people this Saturday, and that is the future of the National Broadband Network.
Here on the coast there are already 7,000 homes that have access to connections to the National Broadband Network around the Gosford region. This entire region is being connected up to the NBN. Construction is commencing to 42,000 additional homes and businesses.
But if the Coalition is successful on Saturday, some 60,000 homes and businesses will miss out on their connections to fibre through the National Broadband Network.
They will have ugly fridges on the side of their street or their corner, connecting up the old out-dated copper technology of last century to their home or to their business.
One of the great things about the National Broadband Network and why we’ve prioritised its rollout in regional communities, is it means that people can work from home. It means that you can deal with aged care, so people can stay in their home for longer, have access to uploading their basic health data, access to talking to a nurse in real time over a reliable network, which will enable elderly people to stay in the home for longer.
It will revolutionise the way that education services are delivered in each and every school, making a huge difference particularly here on the coast so that people will be able to undertake whatever course they like because they will have access through the NBN to education and making sure they get access to those courses. So it will make a big difference.
But politicians say things during election campaigns, and people rightly hold them to scrutiny. That’s why today I think the fact that we’ve got a couple of local small business people who can talk directly about what the National Broadband Network means for them and for the local community, and I’d ask Patrick Spedding to maybe just talk about his story, his business, and the importance of the NBN here on the coast first.
PATRICK SPEDDING, BUSINESS OWNER: Here in Copacabana the copper is so old; the performance is really bad. We’re 21 kilometres from the exchange, they estimate, so our upload speeds are in the region of 0.2mbps.
I’ll give you an example, last week, I work from home and my wife also works from home, she works for a big manufacturer in the US and I was trying to upload a 50mb file to a client – 50mb isn’t that big in world standards, it’s pretty big up here on the coast – but it was going to take about half an hour to upload this file.
At the same time my wife was trying to have a video conference with her team in California, and basically that conference dropped out as soon as I started the upload. So we had to either cancel the upload to my client, or she had to wait half an hour so that she could commence her call with her team.
And it just showed me that basically ADSL with copper, certainly in Copacabana, is a single user system. We basically cannot continue to function with the performance that we’re getting. It’s getting slower year by year.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much. I think it is telling that the Coalition’s policy says nothing about uploads. They don’t seem to get it at all. And it’s important to remember that for our NBN, $30.4 billion of government equity will get you 1000mb download, but 400mb upload for just a three per cent difference in terms the size of the government injection.
The Opposition’s size is $29.5 rather than $30.4 but it’s 40 times slower in terms of download, and they don’t even mention upload in their policy. And upload is the key to business advancement. That is the key to smart manufacturing. It’s the key to people being able to work from home, and it’s the key to making sure that regional communities like this can have businesses grow and expand.
Because looking behind us here, why wouldn’t you want to work from home in this community, rather than drive or catch the train all the way into the CBD of Sydney?
And I might ask Dave Abrahams who has been a broadband investment campaigner to speak about what it means for the coast as well.
DAVE ABRAHAMS, RDA CHAIR AND LOCAL BROADBAND CHAMPION: Thank you Deputy Prime Minister. I’ve reluctantly been trying to bring everyone on board on this project for this region and led a campaign to bring the investment to this region, like many other regions around the country. We have now an 80 per cent of our premises, business and private premises, are on the rollout investment schedule; 80 per cent. It’s the greatest in any region at this present time.
Unfortunately the alternative plans halve that investment from $440 million down to less than half of that investment schedule. So we do have a deinvestment, or a divestment of at least $220 million in our local economy which concerns us. And also local businesses are set to lose at least $100 million in contracts.
Now this is serious for a local economy of this size, and it will have serious repercussions not only economically, not to mention as Patrick mentioned the technical details.
We don’t want to get a bad network that is expensive. And that’s really what it is about. I’ve compiled a report for all councillors for their immediate attention and I’ve thanked them for coming up today and introducing me to the Deputy Prime Minister and I thank the local member, Deborah O’Neill, for her incredible activity in this regard around the community of advocating this investment for the region.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks David and Patrick. Those are the stories I am hearing around every single community in Australia, particularly our regional communities. We simply can’t afford to say ‘stop’ to the 21st century. That’s what stopping the rollout of the National Broadband Network does. It says stop, we won’t bother.
It is like building a four lane modern bridge, but leaving it connected still to an old single lane dirt road. You don’t get any benefit from the bridge, and you have got to go back and fix up the road later on and retrofit it at a far greater cost.
When it comes to the NBN, the Government is absolutely committed to doing it right, doing it once, and doing it with fibre. Australia deserves nothing less and it is extraordinary that Malcolm Turnbull, with what is essentially his ‘fraudband’ plan, he’s been given the task by Tony Abbott to firstly they said they would destroy the NBN – that was the task he was given – Tony Abbott’s words, not mine.
But since then they know that the popularity of the NBN means they are now pretending that they support a form of NBN, but it really is very much a second-rate system that relies upon old copper. And simply won’t deliver for regions, let alone the impact that it will have on jobs and growth in a region such as here, the Central Coast.
JOURNALIST: Do you feel that the Coalition are holding the community and the small businesses owners on a whole to ransom in regards to not having that commitment to the NBN?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well it’s extraordinary that the Coalition like to talk about how business-friendly they are. But really Labor is the best friend that small business has ever had. The NBN is the most important thing you can do for small businesses.
What we know is that small businesses that are engaged in internet activity are more likely to employ people, are more likely to be expanding, are more likely to be successful.
In today’s modern world if you are not connected to the NBN, you will be disconnected. You will be at a disadvantage. Both in terms of at a disadvantage with businesses in the CBD of our capital cities, including Sydney, but importantly disadvantaged in the globalised economy that we live in with the rest of the world. With Singapore, with Korea, with our competitors. So we need to make sure that we do have superfast broadband. We have a plan, it’s being rolled out right now today. You can go to East Gosford and you will see the work taking place today. Employing people in the short term, but making a big difference.
And this comes on top of the Coalition’s commitment to rip $5.4 billion out of small business by reducing the amount that can be claimed for capital investment. At yesterday’s campaign launch Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister, announced an increase in that to $10,000. Why do we do that? We do that because we want to encourage small business to grow. Because we want to encourage that write-off to occur in terms of a small business investment boost so they can write it off and therefore receive an incentive for that investment.
It’s very important, and hence if we are elected this Saturday that increase to $10,000 for small business in the small business investment boost will commence from 8 September. So from day one we will be delivering for small business. Whether it be specific incentives to invest, or whether it be by delivering the National Broadband Network that will particularly help small business in regional communities, such as here on the coast.
JOURNALIST: Polls out today showing that Labor are eight points behind in the two party preferred. Just under a week to go do you feel it’s too far gone?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No not at all. I am very confident about our vision for the future. A vision that’s about building for the future. Building the National Broadband Network, building the Better Schools plan, building healthcare, building investment in road, rail and other infrastructure, particularly the NBN.
Here on the Central Coast the F3, where we have $195 million committed to upgrade the F3 at areas including the Kariong interchange, the Coalition have not matched that.
DEBORAH O’NEILL: That’s right.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We know they’ve got to find $70 billion worth of cuts, and we know that they won’t tell the Australian people where those cuts will be made. They won’t release any costings until after the electronic blackout.
What they are really doing is taking Australians for granted. They think they can just coast through without coming clean about the cuts to F3 funding, about the cuts to other community based infrastructure that they would make.
So Australians have a real choice on Saturday. If they want the National Broadband Network in their home, they will vote Labor. If they want the Better Schools plan with $10 billion rather than $2.8 billion and no obligations on the state governments, they will vote Labor. If they want better healthcare, they will vote Labor. If they want a Government that is truly committed to Disability Care, they will vote Labor. If they want an Australia that we can be proud of in international forums, as Chair of the UN Security Council, which commenced yesterday, they will vote Labor rather than for someone who sits on national TV and talks about goodies and baddies. I mean, he is just not up to holding that sort of high office in this country.
And people will weigh up those issues between Kevin Rudd’s plan for the future and Tony Abbott’s plan for cuts.
We’re prioritising jobs. The announcements yesterday about providing increased support for apprentices. We need to make sure that we expand our support for vocational education and training.
People know what State Liberal governments have done; they have cut support for TAFE. There are 800 less people working in the TAFE sector in New South Wales today than when Barry O’Farrell came to office. They are the sort of cuts that he has made. So the combination of cuts at the State and cuts at the Federal level would be devastating, particularly for regional communities.
I’ll make one more comment about the polls because every interview I’ve done today I have been asked about it. It’s a bit like the NBN has transformed our world. New technology will transform the world; it has done so. The fact is that I asked the younger people in my office if any of them had a home phone. Not one of them does. None of those people are surveyed in any poll.
And let me tell you, the issues that young people are concerned about: the National Broadband Network, issue of equality, issues of education funding. All of those issues are issues in which Labor has a very starkly different position from our conservative opponents.
So I’m confident that this week when people assess that choice, between Labor building for the future and Tony Abbott’s plans for cuts to jobs, to health, to education, they will say I’m not sure about Tony Abbott. I won’t risk Tony Abbott. I won’t vote for Tony Abbott.
JOURNALIST: Warren Truss at last week’s National Press Club mentioned that the Coalition might not honour the last round of the RDA grants, the ones that haven’t been signed off, is that a worry for regional Australia?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well it’s amazing. When I was Local Government Minister, I stood up at the local government conference and we pledged funding to each local government area in Australia through the Regional Development Australia Fund. We gave them an amount of money depending upon their size that they could determine what community infrastructure projects it went to.
What Warren Truss has said is that he will cut funding for Gosford Council, for Wyong Council, for Lake Macquarie Council, for Newcastle City Council. All of these councils will miss out on funding. Cuts.
This is an extraordinary proposition from Warren Truss. Projects like this he’s saying won’t go ahead. And what we did, none of our commitments are uncosted or unfunded. They are all there; every single dollar is in the Economic Statement. We have been totally responsible and transparent.
What Warren Truss is doing is hoping that no one notices that he is going to rip that money out of communities. That is exactly what he will do.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.