House debates

Thursday, 3 March 2016


Turnbull Government

4:50 pm

Photo of Gai BrodtmannGai Brodtmann (Canberra, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

The Abbott-Turnbull government is tearing itself apart. It is dedicating all of its time to arguing with itself and none of its time delivering for Australians. This government is focusing on self-interest, not on the national interest.

This morning's papers further revealed the disgraceful depths to which this government will go. National security is the principal concern of any government, so it is utterly disgraceful to see the former Prime Minister and the current Prime Minister using national security policy as a way to settle old scores. It is irresponsible and dangerous behaviour from the Prime Minister and the former Prime Minister. This is less about submarines and more about the former Prime Minister trying to sink the current Prime Minister.

The strangest thing about all the bickering and infighting is that, when you get down to brass tacks, the Prime Minister is just the former Prime Minister in a more expensive suit. Take the government's second-rate copper NBN, for example. The NBN has been a constant frustration for people in my electorate. If you were to go 15 to 20 kilometres down the road from here, Parliament House in the nation's capital, you would experience some of the worst broadband coverage in the country in terms of availability and quality. These are people in my electorate, who have had their hopes for a world-class NBN raised and dashed, time and time again. These are people who have been identified by the Minister for Communications as living in 'underserved regions'. The quality of broadband for many people in my electorate is among the worst in the country.

I delivered a petition, signed by hundreds of my constituents, to the Minister for Communications demanding that the Tuggeranong region be prioritised in the NBN rollout. We had conducted that petition over a long period of time after a community forum I held in Tuggeranong with the shadow minister for communications, where we had 100-plus people turn out to vent their spleen and frustration about the lack of connectivity they are experiencing in the nation's capital, just 15 to 20 kilometres from Parliament House.

Despite the fact that this petition had been signed by hundreds of Canberrans, who were expressing their concern and frustration, it took the minister 11 weeks to reply. And what did the minister have to say in that letter? What was the minister's reply? The Minister for Communications replied with a promise to prioritise underserved homes and businesses in the NBN rollout. He promised that by 2017-18 more than 65 per cent of those underserved homes and businesses will be able to order a service on the NBN. The one thing he did not promise was to include Tuggeranong. That is right: we are nowhere in that 65 per cent of underserved homes and businesses to be prioritised in the NBN rollout. I say to Canberrans: if you were hoping for a positive change under a Turnbull government, stop hoping. That was the message that came through loud and clear from the Minister for Communications.

Mr Deputy Speaker, what about the Turnbull government's—sorry, 'Mr Speaker'; I beg your pardon—shameful multimillion dollar cuts to Australia's flagship cultural institutions? The Prime Minister is planning to cut 22 full-time equivalent staff from the National Library by the end of the next financial year. That is a cut to crucial staff and the library's crucial services. Mr Deputy Speaker, I have heard from the people in these agencies, our cultural institutions. They are saying that we are not cutting into fat, we are not cutting into bone; we are now cutting into vital organs. So if you thought it was only Mr Abbott who wanted to cut the heart out of Canberra, you would be wrong. New Prime Minister Turnbull is following Mr Abbott's script.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member will refer to members by their correct titles.

Photo of Gai BrodtmannGai Brodtmann (Canberra, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, I am trying to, Mr Deputy Speaker—including you, Mr Speaker. It has been a long day, Mr Speaker. It has been a long fortnight, Mr Speaker.

Photo of Gai BrodtmannGai Brodtmann (Canberra, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

The Prime Minister has the power to reverse his predecessor's cuts to the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum, the Museum of Australian Democracy and the National Film and Sound Archive, as well as his cuts to the National Library. But what does he do instead? He doubles down. He doubles down on attacking Canberra's cultural institutions and doubles down on the lack of priority given in the NBN rollout to Canberra's underserved homes and businesses. And he has doubled down on the aggressive industrial relations agenda of the former Prime Minister, who never found a worker's right he did not want to strip away.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Canberra. I hope people reading the Hansard in the years to come do not think that the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were changing chair duty that frequently.