House debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Matters of Public Importance


3:43 pm

Photo of Alex HawkeAlex Hawke (Mitchell, Liberal Party, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

What do you say to that? What do you really say to that? We used to hear a lot about the vision at the dispatch box, the vision about what Labor would do if they are elected, but some of us were actually there and remember the vision that Labor had when they were last in government about communications. I remember their vision for the NBN Co. It was on the back of a napkin, I think, and conceived on a flight.

An honourable member interje cting—

Yes, on the back of a napkin. See, that's the problem when you have a vision but you don't have the know-how to implement something as important and technical and practical as a national broadband network. I remember also Labor's original rollout of the NBN didn't go to important places like hospitals and business parks. In my own electorate, the largest business park west of Parramatta in north-west Sydney wasn't on the rollout plan. Why wasn't it on the rollout plan? The member for Greenway had a lot of streets and suburbs on her rollout plan in the original rollout of the NBN. It wouldn't be because it was a marginal seat, would it? Some whole suburbs and streets had rollout plans, yet hospitals were not being connected to the NBN nor were critical manufacturing and other facilities that needed NBN access. These are the wrong priorities that Labor had with their initial rollout of the NBN.

We remember their record on communications, and the public shouldn't forget it. I remember very clearly the wonderful phrase 'mandatory internet filter'. What a wonderful idea that was of the Labor Party's in office—to filter the internet. For five years they promised a mandatory internet filter, talking up their record on communications. They're the tech heads, to quote a former Prime Minister, the ones that understand communications. They tried to filter the internet for five years. It was five years before they had to kill this egregious waste of money that attempted to filter the internet. Thank goodness that went to bed.

It was also good that the coalition got elected in 2013. I highly recommend our Real Solutions brochure—good reading. And the Australian public saw that as well. They saw it and they voted for the coalition again in record numbers, another one of those election victories. The Real Solutions pamphlet was an election-winning set of policies. By the time those opposite had left office, 51,000 users had been connected to the NBN. At the time, if you remember back to that period, you couldn't get a subbie anywhere in Western Sydney to do anything, because all of them were chasing the NBN contracts from Labor. You might say: 'Great—that's fantastic. They were trying to build the NBN.' The reality was that, under Labor, under the mismanagement of the people they put in place, under the egregious amounts of money that they were offering, every subbie knew that, if you worked for the NBN, you'd be paid two to three times what you would be paid in any other job for less work. Subbies were literally not doing any work for anybody else, because they were being paid three times for the same work. Now, what company, corporation or anyone could afford to pay three times the price for the delivery of a service? Of course, a Labor-run facility. So, when the member for Gellibrand says, 'We want it in public ownership,' what he means is completely and utterly incompetent administration run by the Labor Party. And people shouldn't forget the cost of that, the cost versus the service. There were just 51,000 users after all of that waste.

What did the coalition do? We came to office. And, of course, that's why people elect coalition governments, because they get real solutions. And what did we do with the NBN? Well, we actually fixed it. We made it work. We got it ready for the pandemic. And thank goodness the coalition had been elected to office before the pandemic, so that, when people needed it, the NBN was there. It was there for people at home and in their businesses. We connected business parks, we connected hospitals, we connected people to the services they needed—the productivity driving force that this was supposed to be all about. The coalition's plan wasn't on the back of an envelope. Yes, it was in detailed policy brochures. We don't apologise for that. It wasn't a mandatory internet filter that we focused on for five years and then scrapped because it was a complete waste of time and energy. This was the chaos that Labor represented in all areas of policy, and communications were no different.

Labor wasted $6 billion on the NBN, for just three per cent of Australian premises. We came to office and we got it fixed. The NBN is working, it is viable and it is delivering for Australians. Again, that just shows that this coalition government, the Morrison government, has delivered real solutions for people. It is continuing to do the job—not just the vision but the 'how' you are going to get the job done. Only a coalition government can be trusted.


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