Tuesday, 19 June 2007
I rise with a sense of considerable indignation, representing the electorate of Denison and, I suppose more broadly, the people of Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania. To give you some sense of the reason for my outrage, I will read an email which I received today with respect to the repeated comments by the government that they are providing a fibre-to-the-node network to the five capital cities. My constituent sent me the note, which is copied to every other Tasmanian senator and member, saying:
As Tasmania’s representatives in the Federal Government—
that should be the federal parliament, of course—
could you please advise the Prime Minister that there are 6 capital cities in Australia, not 5.
15km out of Hobart we are unable to access broadband, ADSN, ISDN and wireless broadband!
This is a disgrace. In Tasmania we are being treated as if we are rubes with straw behind our ears who cannot understand any of the basics of communications, economics or politics.
I will tell you something that Tasmanians do understand: they have 12 senators, and five members in the House of Representatives. All five members from the Labor Party in the House of Representatives will be elected in the forthcoming election if the government does not have better sense than to treat Tasmania as if it is not a state of the Commonwealth and as if Hobart is not the capital of a state. It cannot get away with this nonsense.
There is a map of the state of Tasmania, with my electorate, showing where the so-called high-speed broadband network will be delivered—every locality where it will be delivered at high speeds. They actually tried to draw circles. I think a little nub at one point stretches across the boundary of the electorate of Denison accidentally. The city of Hobart, on both sides of the river, the metropolitan centre of a state capital, is going to be provided with the least available service—that is, six megabytes per second at implementation and 12 megabytes per second by 30 June 2009. Tasmania was left off the map. More particularly, we suffer the nonsense whereby the government keeps talking about services to metropolitan areas, to the five capital cities, with high-speed fibre optic to the node networks—and in a state capital, in Tasmania, we have the situation whereby we are being provided with nothing that is at all comparable to the kinds of services that other capital cities acquire. I have nothing but contempt for that.
The federal Labor Party’s position is that all major centres capable of being reached by high-speed fibre to the node will be reached. About two per cent of Australians live in such remote localities that their service will have to be provided wirelessly, but 98 per cent of Australians can be provided with the high-quality, first-class, fibre-to-the-node network, not only those in the metropolitan centres of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide—leaving out major metropolitan centres Hobart, a capital city of a state; Launceston, the second city of Tasmania; and Burnie, the other major metropolitan centre. They were all ignored in this government’s second-rate solution for the balance of Australia. So we have a first-rate fibre-to-the-node rollout to five capital cities, excluding one of the foundation states in the Commonwealth of Australia.
The parliamentarians who represent this state are being treated by this government as if they are some kind of hillbilly hicks who will not notice what is going on or the crudity of politics like this. The centre of a major metropolitan area in a state of Australia is excluded from access to high-speed fibre-to-the-node cable, notwithstanding the fact that there are sunk investments in fibre-optic cable already in Tasmania that could be prevailed upon. This is a dopey, short-sighted, short-term political fix that deserves to be condemned. (Time expired)