Subjects; NBN, Sam Dastyari, WA Liberal Party fundraiser with Chinese officials; citizenship.
SUSAN LAMB, MEMBER FOR LONGMAN: Thanks everybody. Thanks for coming this morning. You need to look back to 2010 to see the last government that really delivered infrastructure for Caboolture and Morayfield. That was the Labor Government of course. We delivered the equestrian centre in Caboolture and the upgrade to the town square in the middle of Caboolture as well. Since then, what have we seen in the Caboolture Morayfield area? Well, out at Woodford, not once but twice being denied an infrastructure project that would create hundreds of jobs. We haven’t seen any infrastructure delivered there.
What we have seen though is a dodgy, slow, unreliable NBN rolled out right across the electorate from Caboolture right through the Morayfield today. So welcome today to Anthony Albanese, of course one of those ministers in the Labor Government in 2010 who delivered for Caboolture and Morayfield and of course Dr Evan Jones here, the practice director at the Morayfield Health Hub. I’d like to invite Dr Jones now to speak to us a little bit about what’s happened here around the dodgy, the slow, the unreliable NBN that we have to live with here in Morayfield. Thanks Evan.
DR EVAN JONES, MORAYFIELD HEALTH HUB: Thank you. So welcome all to the Morayfield Health Hub. So this is world class infrastructure we’re delivering here in the Caboolture region, but unfortunately we’ve not had world class communication systems so far. Indeed, it’s been a very frustrating system to actually have NBN. So right from the start of construction here we’ve been talking to NBN about the need for us to have fibre to the premises and so we were very happy to pay for that fibre to come directly into the premises and into our data room. But it has been an incredibly frustrating system to be able to get that NBN in here.
So we were delayed in being able to have the fit-off of the NBN here. We were then delayed in being able to then access that service and the dates that we were given, the service was still not available. And so it’s taken us quite a lot of angst and a great deal of communications with various people including Susan Lamb’s office here to enable us to finally get NBN services. So because of what we saw in the unreliability of the NBN service I’ve had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on server equipment which I would otherwise not have put in place here. So normally I would have put that into the cloud but with the unreliability of the NBN system I couldn’t run the risk of that.
Just the other week at our other practice here where we connect it to the NBN but unfortunately have copper for the last few hundred metres, it rained in this area and so consequently we lost all communications and internet access into our 13-doctor practice for two hours and that’s just intolerable. It’s dangerous. And so you know we’d like to be saying that we need to have a world-class NBN system so that health services can actually be delivered in the right and proper way.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, thanks very much Evan and it’s great to be here with my friend Susan Lamb as well back here in Caboolture. As Susan said, when I was the Minister for Infrastructure, I visited here when we funded the equestrian centre, when we funded the town upgrade at Caboolture. When we funded the upgrade in facilities at Woodford. All of those funded by the former Federal Labor Government.
They’d also had, importantly, a vision for the National Broadband Network that understood that if you’re going to overcome the tyranny of distance and have regional economic development then the National Broadband Network is the key. If you have the NBN providing fibre services with speeds and reliability the same as in Brisbane CBD that you could get in Caboolture or Morayfield or anywhere else – Bribie Island – then what you would have is, because of the lower cost base an actual incentive for job creation here in this region.
Instead what we have is unreliability of the NBN. Caboolture is the fifth largest number of complaints about the NBN of any postcode in Australia. We have here the circumstances as we just heard from Dr Jones where because of the facility with 13 doctors in place because it rains, the entire system breaks down because it’s relying upon copper – last century’s technology. Not the end of last century. The beginning of last century technology to deliver services for the last section of the NBN when it’s fibre to the node. This is simply not good enough.
Malcolm Turnbull likes to have excuses for a whole range of the failings of the Government that he leads, but this he was tasked with as a Communications Shadow Minister, with destroying the NBN by Tony Abbott when he was the Leader of the Opposition. Malcolm Turnbull took on the responsibility of being Communications Minister following the election prior to the election I was the Communications Minister, he boasted that you could do it all cheaper and more reliable. Well, what we’re seeing is; it’s unreliable. It’s costing more than the $28 billion dollars that he said it would cost. It’s doubled in the cost. And of course the timeline has just disappeared.
A letter after the 2013 election and commitments beforehand promised access to high speed broadband by 2016. It is now 2017, and families and households in this electorate aren’t getting high speed broadband but businesses and service delivery aren’t getting high speed broadband either. You had from the Coalition numerous spokespeople from Tony Abbott down, speaking about ‘oh it’s all about – you don’t need the high speeds because it’s all about movie downloads’. What they didn’t understand is that in the 21st century the delivery of education services, the delivery of health services relies more and more upon high speed broadband being able to be delivered.
And it is extraordinary that it took the intervention of Susan Lamb as the local member here in Longman to ensure that this facility was turned on before the opening today. But that hasn’t prevented the sort of catastrophic results whereby the loss of the internet for hours at a time at a medical service just shouldn’t happen. But then again copper shouldn’t be the basis of providing these services. Happy to take questions.
REPORTER: Mr Albanese, to something else, does Sam Dastyari –
ALBANESE: Do we have any questions about this first? Fire away, you’re on.
REPORTER: Does Sam Dastyari still have questions to answer?
ALBANESE: Sam Dastyari has been through the processes. He’s paid a heavy price for the misdemeanors that he has expressed regret for. The questions that have to be answered today are there on the front page of the newspaper that suggest that what we’re seeing in Western Australia is a fundraiser being held whereby donors to the Liberal Party are being asked to donate funds in order to attend a briefing from Chinese Government officials and that state and federal Western Australian Liberal and National Party figures have all been invited to this event. I find that extraordinary.
That donors would be asked to donate money to the Liberal Party in order to hear a briefing from another country. I think they’re very serious questions and the Liberal Party and the National Party should answer how it is that this has come about. We know that Mr Wong has donated substantial amounts of funds to the WA Liberal Party.
We know about Julie Bishop’s Glorious Foundation that we heard about in recent months has been operating for some time – a foundation remarkably, that Julie Bishop says she didn’t know much about. Now I reckon if there is an Anthony Albanese Glorious Foundation out there I’d know about it. So I think those questions today are the new revelations and they do require a response.
REPORTER: Just clearly, Dastyari has been working in other nations’ interests there. How deep does this Chinese influence run in the Party?
ALBANESE: The questions about Sam Dastyari have been asked and have been answered and he’s paid a price for it, for that lack of judgement.
REPORTER: On that note, are you comfortable with him sitting in the Senate?
ALBANESE: He is elected as a member of the Senate. The way that politics works in this country is you get elected by the people. He’s been elected to that position and the things that are – the I guess, the pluses from the Labor Caucus positions that he held – he has resigned from after a request from the Labor Leader Bill Shorten.
REPORTER: Is it time for Dastyari to get the flick?
ALBANESE: The fact is that Sam Dastyari has lost the positions that he has held. That’s a heavy price for Sam and that has now occurred on two occasions. The new news today – and as far as I’m aware there are no new revelations about Sam Dastyari today at all – the new news is that the WA Liberal Party is charging Liberal Party donors.
They’re the Government, bear in mind. They’re the Federal Government of Australia with key people from the Western Australian Division of the Liberal Party. Mathias Cormann, their key person in the Senate and the person in charge of finances for this country. Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister of this country charging people to go to an event to hear from Government officials, not from Australia, but from China. That is the new news that’s out there today.
REPORTER: Are you here in the seat of Longman preparing for a by-election?
ALBANESE: I am here again with Susan Lamb because she’s a fantastic member who constantly stands up for her electorate and delivers. Susan Lamb’s been through the processes. She’s answered those questions and we are very confident that that issue has been totally dealt with. Susan Lamb is someone who’s lobbying for her electorate. She’s lobbying today about the National Broadband Network but also about infrastructure facilities and about jobs, and that’s why this visit was lined up a long time ago.
We’ve just met with people with regard to the aviation sector and ensuring jobs can be created here after this. We’ve got further meetings at Woodford. And Susan is someone who I think is making an outstanding contribution as a first term member. Her second term will be even better. By the third term she’ll probably be coming to my electorate because she’ll be a minister in a Labor Government.
REPORTER: Ms Lamb, are you still concerned that you are still a dual citizen?
LAMB: I’m not concerned that I’m a dual citizen at all. I’m an Australian citizen. I was born in Mackay in North Queensland, went through all of the processes I needed to take to ensure that when I was elected on the 2nd of July, that I met every step of the way that I was eligible to sit there.
REPORTER: Are you still a British citizen?
LAMB: I’m an Australian citizen and I have a letter from the UK HO that confirms that they are not satisfied that I’m a British citizen, but before that I took every single step in the event that I was a British citizen to ensure that that wasn’t an issue.
REPORTER: What were those steps?
LAMB: Sure. So I filled in my renunciation paperwork. Paid my £272, waited until that money was processed and then nominated on the 7th of June.
REPORTER: And did you get a confirmation email back from the British Government or whatever authority that it is to confirm?
LAMB: The document that I have that ended this was a letter from the UK HO that says they are not satisfied I’m a British citizen. That’s the final document I have from the UK.
REPORTER: Your situation seems similar to some of the other politicians who have gone through the High Court process. Why not refer yourself to the High Court and have the same clarification by the High Court?
LAMB: So there’s two points there. One is that it’s not the same. I took all steps, all reasonable steps prior to nominating. Very different to a lot of members that find themselves in a situation with a question mark, who took no steps, no steps at all. It’s very clear. I have 41 pages that comprised of my disclosure to talk through that process. So that is a very, very different situation to what the government members are.
But actually, what happened last Wednesday on the floor of Parliament was we asked Malcolm Turnbull and his government that if they had a concern over a number of MPs to vote for a motion to send people through to the High Court and have any uncertainty put to rest. Malcolm Turnbull said no. He voted no.
REPORTER: Were you included in that motion?
LAMB: I was included in that motion. There were a number of Labor MPs. There was Rebecca Sharkie from the Nick Xenophon Team and a number of Liberal MPs that were included in that motion. It was put to the floor. I voted yes. If there’s any uncertainty, I voted yes. Anthony voted yes. Malcolm Turnbull voted no.
REPORTER: So you would be happy to the High Court to have this heard, just to put to rest any debate on the issue once and for all?
LAMB: If there is uncertainty over any Member in the House over their position, I’m confident I have three QCs, independent QCs that are confident, but if the Government still thinks there’s something to uncover after 41 pages of disclosure then we put ourselves forward last Wednesday. Malcolm Turnbull had his opportunity then to send me through. He decided no.
REPORTER: Mr Albanese, Linda Burney said this morning she’s sure Sam Dastyari is considering his position in the Labor Party. Is she right?
ALBANESE: Well, Sam Dastyari has considered his position as Deputy Whip and he’s resigned. That issue has been dealt with. It’s been dealt with appropriately by Sam and hence the questions that need to be answered are the fact of the party, that is the party of government at the moment, the WA Liberal Party – they don’t act much like a government I know, so it’s understandable that there’d be some confusion – but they are the Government, and they are holding a fundraiser asking people to pay money to hear from a government of another country about the One Belt One Road initiative and other initiatives of the Chinese Government.
Now, questions do have to be answered about that and I’m waiting for the Government to provide answers as to how this could possibly occur. And Malcolm Turnbull over whether he thinks that is appropriate.
REPORTER: You kind of mentioned this before, but just to clarify, if Bill Shorten doesn’t stand down Sam Dastyari isn’t it –
ALBANESE: Bill Shorten has stood down Sam Dastyari.
REPORTER: Doesn’t it open him up to suggestions he’s being bought off by the Chinese?
ALBANESE: Bill Shorten has stood down Sam Dastyari as the Deputy Whip. That is the position that Bill Shorten could stand him down from. He has done it. That stands in stark contrast to Malcolm Turnbull who isn’t showing leadership, whether it be over this issue of the WA Liberal Party, whether it be leadership over the citizenship issue whereby people have actually been through by-elections.
There is a by-election and I’ll be in Bennelong tomorrow with our candidate, Kristina Keneally, our very good candidate Kristina Keneally and I’ll be campaigning there on the basis of that fact that they have an opportunity to put this government out of its own misery, because they continue to obfuscate over issues, take citizenship. The fact is that the people who have gone through by-elections, John Alexander, Barnaby Joyce are people who made no effort. Zero effort to renounce their citizenship. It wasn’t a matter of making all reasonable steps. They made no steps whatsoever.
The Liberal Party and the National Party and the Greens had no structure in place for which assessments were made prior to the election. We had structures in place. Susan Lamb went through that process. So did I. So did every other member seeking to be a candidate for the Australian Labor Party at the last election and at every election before then since the Sykes vs Cleary judgement that clearly outlined reasonable steps. Thanks very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.