Thursday, 18 October 2018
Matters of Public Importance
Rural and Regional Australia
I'll just remind the chamber that the member for Mallee last year was the only government MP not to put his name to a dissenting report rejecting a parliamentary paper criticising the NBN. He said he believes some of the complaints about this rollout have some merits. I think that goes to show that, while the previous government speaker was going on about how wonderful the NBN has been under this government, the member for Mallee seems not to completely agree with this statement.
I welcome the opportunity to speak on this MPI. As a member who lives in a regional and rural part of this country, in Tasmania—the majority of Tasmania is actually regional—I don't see why those opposite can say we don't care about ourselves, really.
You have to look at what's going on opposite. We've had three Prime Ministers and two Deputy Prime Ministers with maybe another one coming back again. Chaos and dysfunction are the hallmarks of this government. Today the chaos and dysfunction continues, and, if it weren't so funny, it would be quite sad. Actually, I do feel quite saddened by what is going on. The muppet show is now performing in New England and Wagga Wagga, Statler and Waldorf going toe to toe—or is Grover from Maranoa getting ready to make his move? While this muppet show goes on, as people jockey for position, it's the people of regional Australia who are getting left behind, and this is why I'm feeling very sad about what is happening to the state of affairs in this government.
In my state and my electorate there has been nothing but a litany of failure: cuts to our local university campus; cuts to our schools, our hospitals, our TAFE; axing of visiting medical specialist services; and a failure to deliver the mobile phone blackspot program where it is actually needed. The rolling out of a second-rate NBN to our two biggest cities, Burnie and Devonport, has put our region at a competitive disadvantage. Thank you very, very much! This government wanted to put the west coast of Tasmania, which is mineral rich—you used to have to send files on discs to Mineral Resources Tasmania—on satellite. Those mining companies couldn't even operate on satellite. It took the community to stand up and push back, and they finally have the 'wonderful' fibre to the node, which is not what they were after but is what they got. The government was bizarrely replacing old copper with new copper in a place like the west coast, which has some of the highest rainfall in the country.
That's right: the only funding this government has delivered is what the former Labor government had in its forward estimates for mobile phone towers.