Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Fuel Prices; Broadband
Let me begin by reminding the member for Oxley that, if we were still running Labor’s excise system on fuel, petrol would now be substantially more expensive—that is, 17.2c a litre more expensive—than it currently is. Let me remind the member for Oxley that this government reduced the excise on fuel in 2000 and again in 2001. More significantly, we removed the iniquitous automatic indexation of fuel excise that was introduced by the Hawke Labor government. Enough of this rubbish from the other side—if their system of excise was operating today, petrol would be 17.2c a litre more expensive than it is.
We have also heard a lot of humbug in the last couple of days from the members opposite about the government’s broadband proposal. I will come to that and point out the comparisons in a moment. Let me say at the outset that I am delighted by the improvements that the government’s initiative will bring to my electorate. Seven exchanges in my electorate—Bathurst, Blackheath, Hazelbrook, two sites at Katoomba, Lawson and Wentworth Falls—will be upgraded to ADSL2+ with speeds of at least 12 megabits per second and up to 20 megabits per second within the next two years. In addition to that, another 15 sites in my electorate will have access to WiMAX wireless technology with speeds of initially six but, within two years, up to 12 megabits per second. Those are two sites at Bathurst and sites at Blayney, Essington, Hampton, Lawson, Lithgow, Mount Marsden, Mount Ryan, Mount Victoria, Oberon, Palmers Oaky, Portland, Newnes and Shooters Hill. Within two years all of these sites will have speeds of at least 12 megabits per second. For many of those areas that currently have very slow speeds, we will have an increase in speed of 24 times what it currently is. Every area in my electorate will have access to high-speed broadband. The few remote areas will have access to heavily subsidised satellite service broadband.
We have heard a lot of nonsense from the other side and sadly we have also seen some media that is not really conversant with the facts on this. Let me point out the facts. Firstly, this government’s proposal for high-speed broadband will cover 99 per cent of the country. Labor’s proposal tried to pretend it would cover 98 per cent but in reality will only cover about 75 per cent of Australia. Labor’s proposal is a city-centric, metropolitan-centric proposal that totally ignores the needs of rural and regional Australia. This government’s proposal will cover 99 per cent of Australia with high-speed broadband. Secondly, Labor’s proposal was for a maximum speed of 12 megabits per second and the government’s proposal is a minimum of 12 megabits per second and even more than that. Thirdly, Labor’s proposal would only cover up to four kilometres from the exchange, whereas the government’s proposal would cover at least 20 kilometres from the base station. The government’s proposal for coverage is far superior to Labor’s proposal. Labor’s costly proposal was going to raid the Communications Fund and the Future Fund of $4.7 billion. The government’s proposal, by contrast, will cost less than $1 billion and will be matched by funding from the private sector, so again there is far less burden on taxpayers to achieve a superior outcome. Labor’s proposal was to come online by 2013—pie in the sky. That is six years away. The government’s proposal will start immediately and will be completed within two years.