Monday, 24 June 2013
Flynn Electorate: Telecommunications
The unstable and dysfunctional nature of the current Labor government has driven many people to despair over the state of the Australian parliament. Many people in my electorate of Flynn have simply switched off and are disgusted with what has transpired since 2007. I stand before the chamber today to send a clear message to the communities of Central Queensland. We do not have to tolerate the divisions and failure of Labor. There is a better way. I am determined to bring about the restoration of trusted integrity of government, hope for a better and more secure future and reward for hard work and the risk that many of us take from our day-to-day business to provide for our families and loved ones.
I would like to talk about mobile communication in my wide area of Flynn, which is 130,000 square kilometres. Two devastating floods in three years have shown us that our communication network in Flynn is simply not good enough. Prior to 2007, there was a policy which saw a partnership between industry, community and government working together to provide better mobile communications in our regional communities. Since then we have seen the program halted. Mobile communications are vital to small towns and regional communities, but often the size of the population is not sufficient to warrant investment from private enterprise alone. It is something like $850,000 to build one mobile tower. I therefore want to see these partnerships restored and will work to that end to see the important issue resolved.
The coalition, like the government, has an NBN plan. I believe the coalition's NBN policy is the key to seeing regional communities receive the affordable, faster, reliable internet connection they deserve. At the moment many of my towns are not even on the radar for getting NBN, whereas our policy states quite clearly that everyone in Australia will have our brand of NBN in place by 2016. It will consist of fibre to the premises—fibre to the node, wireless and satellite are other options. They will have to be judged on their merits at the time of installation, whether the town has a thousand or a hundred connections. It will be done by 2016. We will ensure that businesses and households of Flynn get access to fast broadband at the speed of 25 megabits per second, which is five or six times faster than what we have at the moment. Regional areas with substandard internet services must be given priority rollouts. Building the coalition's broadband network will cost about two-thirds of Labor's network. That means a less expensive NBN for regional consumers, who will save about $300 a year. We will ensure prices are kept affordable by requiring NBN Co. to set a wholesale price cap for NBN services across Australia.
Mineral resources is a very lively topic at the moment, as we see coal companies in my area under enormous pressure due to the world commodity prices, especially those of China, but also Japan, Korea and to a lesser extent India.
The carbon tax represents a huge impost on all Australians and it has hit our alumina and aluminium industries in Gladstone in a big way. It also has impacted on the cement industry. We will scrap the carbon tax and the MRRT and hopefully we can save these industries from extinction. The MRRT has generated next to no income for this government. It was badly designed and has only served as a disincentive for new investment in Australia. At the moment, we are seeing about $100 billion worth of projects put on hold or actually abandoned altogether. Our resources sector is vital to our local, regional and national economy. Investment has stalled in Australia, and in Flynn we are feeling the effects firsthand.
I support the streamlining of the EIS process to allow for more a efficient approval process while still ensuring that the protection of our environmental assets like the Great Barrier Brief is at the forefront. I state again that I do not believe that industrial development and the preservation of environmental assets in our region should be mutually exclusive goals. I do not believe we need to resign the towns of Emerald and Gladstone to the boom-and-bust cycle of the past. As a federal member, I am working hard to see sustainable growth for these communities.
We have to grow our agricultural sector to meet the needs of a world population expected to hit nine billion by the year 2030. Australia supplies food and fibre to over 60 million people, and that number is growing every year. Australia's agricultural future must be clearly planned if we are to double production in the next 10 years. So far the current government has presided over poor awareness. There is a lack of investment in R&D, poor incentives for private investment and ad hoc policy decisions on live cattle exports et cetera.
We must maintain Australia 's biosecurity, reduce red tape, bring together state and federal regulations, ensure fair competition and trade agreements and develop better livestock management practices and science based animal welfare standards. We must improve labour solutions. We have uncompetitive wages and we must upskill our workforce. We must encourage more people to join the agricultural workforce and there must be flexible working arrangements for those workers. Land and water agreements need to be put in place quickly. Better environmental, drought and flood management strategies need to be put in place, not the debacle we have seen in the Murray-Darling up to this stage, where no-one seems to be very happy.
There has been a lot of red tape. Since 2007, Labor has introduced over 22,000 new rules and regulations for businesses and has repealed fewer than 200. This represents a broken election promise. Labor promised there would be a 'one in, one out' policy, but this has never happened. There are 22,000 extra regulations on small business. It is a very onerous task indeed for small business to have the time to decipher what the new policy is and to put it into action. Since February 2012, the coalition's deregulation task force has been travelling Australia, meeting with small businesses and taking submissions on how to reduce the impost of red tape and excessive regulation. To address this issue, we will cut $1 billion worth of red tape from small businesses to allow them to grow and expand without excessive government regulation.
In conclusion, I highlight the fact that Flynn is one of the most diverse and influential electorates in Australia. Nowhere else do you have such a mix of industry and environmental treasures that are the envy of the nation. For nearly six years we have suffered the effects of a bad government. Enough is enough. I have a plan and a vision for Flynn, as does the coalition, and, if we are lucky enough to be given the opportunity to govern in September, I will relish the chance to restore hope, reward and opportunity in Central Queensland.