House debates

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions without Notice


2:33 pm

Photo of Dick AdamsDick Adams (Lyons, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Regional Services and Local Communities and Territories. What economic benefits is the government's National Broadband Network delivering to Australians living in regional communities, and is there any opposition to these?

Photo of Ms Catherine KingMs Catherine King (Ballarat, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Regional Services, Local Communities and Territories) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Lyons for his question and acknowledge his long-term advocacy for regional Australians. For those of us who represent regional constituencies, like the member for Lyons and I, the NBN is an absolute game changer for our regional communities. It will fundamentally change the way in which we do business internationally and domestically. It is infrastructure that is absolutely critical to the future of our regions not just in terms of health and education services—or the downloading of movies, which is what the member for Wentworth seems to think is the only thing the internet is used for these days, or perhaps I should call them 'talkies'—but also in terms of economic opportunities that are available for regional Australia—

Mr Hunt interjecting

Photo of Ms Anna BurkeMs Anna Burke (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Flinders might also know about the standing orders.

Photo of Ms Catherine KingMs Catherine King (Ballarat, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Regional Services, Local Communities and Territories) Share this | | Hansard source

It is critical to improving the competitiveness of our regional, rural and remote communities. The National Broadband Network removes the tyranny of distance and gives regional communities the opportunity to engage right across the world in a way that has never been possible before, developing clients and markets right the way across the globe. There are already regional communities that are benefiting from this government's investment in their broadband future. Communities like Coffs Harbour, Townsville, Gosford, Toowoomba, Bacchus Marsh and Armidale are already connected to the National Broadband Network and are benefiting from the National Broadband Network.

But there is a clear choice for regional communities: Labor's high-speed fibre-to-the-home or the coalition's copper-to-the-home. The digital divide the coalition's policy would leave us with will be especially pronounced for those of us living in regional Australia. Under the coalition's policy we will be left even further behind. The coalition thinks it is fine to leave Australians with broadband that in 10 years time will be like dial-up is today. The coalition's copper-to-the-home policy is a dud for regional communities—an absolute dud—and they know it. Under the coalition, regional Australians will pay more for a much slower and inferior service. It abandons uniform pricing and will force people outside of capital cities to pay more. Even IT experts will tell you that. They describe the coalition's policy as 'too little, too slow and too backwards'. You bet it is: too backwards.

Whether it is infrastructure investments in our roads, our regional rail, our ports, our freight hubs, our regional airports or other nation-building programs, the opposition has demonstrated time and time again that it has no vision for this country, no vision for the future and no idea just how critical the National Broadband Network is for the future of our regional economies and our regional communities.