Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Matters of Public Importance
I thank the member for Macquarie for her contribution. Let me start by saying that in that contribution we have exactly the reason why Labor's NBN failed so badly. It wasn't about providing telephony and data services to Australians; it was about making sure that their mates in the telecommunications industry got as much money as they possibly could. That's why they talk about equity and all the sorts of things they love to talk about. But they never talk about the opportunity for small businesses. They never talk about the opportunity for households. They never talk about the things that really matter.
When I first got elected to this place, in 2016, I met a gentleman by the name of Ben Christie, who runs a global company from Warriewood Valley in my electorate. I say to the member for Macquarie: Ben Christie had been waiting under Labor's NBN for nearly seven years for there to be a connection. He literally had to drive to Parramatta to be able to run his business. The dislocation, the amount of business he lost and the number of people he could not employ due to Labor's incompetence was just extraordinary.
So when the shadow minister for telecommunications puts up an MPI topic like this, I am torn between thinking that it's some sort of black humour and thinking that she just wants us to have a great laugh at their expense. What could go wrong with a program that was designed off the back of a beer coaster at the front of the Prime Minister's plane as he returned from Townsville in less than three hours? Of course, who of us in this place has not designed a $4 billion infrastructure spend on the back of a beer coaster in less than three hours? None of us, of course, because we are all geniuses and know it all! None of us had experience in rolling out a telecommunications company or data, but that didn't bother Prime Minister Rudd or Minister Stephen Conroy. They knew that they could do it. I thank God that they could not find a second beer coaster. God knows what the two of them would have come up with if they'd had an extra hour on the plane with a second beer coaster! They could have saved this country from who knows what? Let's think of a disaster they could have solved. Given a couple more hours they could have probably spent $170 billion. That's what we have from those opposite. They come up with all this vision. It is preposterous in its statement. It is preposterous in its thinking.
We have the member for Macquarie accusing this government of not caring about people in the upper Blue Mountains when those opposite were more interested in an equitable telephony system than they were in actually delivering services, and why? Because they don't actually care about the practicalities of life. They only care about the ideological outcomes. So now we have people in the upper Blue Mountains who can't get access to data services because of their poorly designed NBN which, once again, those on this side had to fix, just like with the NDIS and just like with the apology to the disabled and people who were sexually abused in institutions. It is always left to this side of the House to actually come up with practical outcomes that make a difference to real people.
You won't hear us talking at length about equity. You will hear us talking about equality of opportunity. You will hear us talking about freedom. You will hear us talk about personal choice, like whether you want fibre to the node or fibre to the premises. We don't believe that all wisdom in this nation resides only in this chamber. We believe that your ordinary, average Australian has the capacity to make decisions for themselves.
We know those opposite don't trust Australians. We know those opposite believe that they are not up to making even the choice as to whether they want fibre to the node or fibre to their premises. We know those opposite believe that these are decisions that should be made in a prime ministerial VIP jet on the way back from Townsville on the back of a beer coaster, because, after all, your ordinary, average Australian does not have the capacity to use a beer coaster! Only Senator Conroy and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd can do that! So we have a project that massively overran and massively undelivered. Once again, it was left to those on this side of the House to fix that problem.