House debates

Thursday, 21 February 2019


Tourism Industry, Broadband, Hobson, Mr Ted

11:14 am

Photo of Josh WilsonJosh Wilson (Fremantle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I take the opportunity to reflect on a few things that have occurred over the last couple of weeks. I'm very glad to have the role and responsibility of being the convenor of Labor Friends of Tourism. Last night we held an event here in the parliament with a number of representatives and stakeholders from the tourism industry, and we had a very useful and instructive panel. The featured guests of the panel included the member for Grayndler, who is both the shadow minister for tourism and the shadow minister for infrastructure, transport, cities and regional development and who has a long-standing interest in and commitment to all things tourism; Joyce Di Mascio, who is the CEO of the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia; and Stephen Wood, who's the general manager of the National Convention Centre here in Canberra.

At the last election, there was only one side of politics that had a tourism policy. It was the Labor Party. In the aftermath of the election, there was only one side of politics that had someone with specific ministerial responsibility for tourism. It was the Australian Labor Party. We know how important the tourism industry is to Australia, as one of our two key service exports. It is something that we should always be looking to do better, in a way that increases the broad economic and social benefits and extends those benefits into regional Australia. If you want to do that, you need to recognise that supporting tourism means a lot more than just marketing initiatives. We have to look at proper and sustained career pathways in tourism, we have to look at appropriate training and we have to look at infrastructure. Infrastructure is key to bringing people to Australia and allowing them to enjoy the physical and cultural beauty of this place.

When it comes to infrastructure, there's no bigger or more important project at the moment than the National Broadband Network. Sadly, that has been delivered in very poor fashion. One of the things that has become clear over the last couple of weeks, particularly through the NBN committee, which I'm fortunate to be the deputy chair of, is that my state of Western Australia is getting a very poor share when it comes to the government's multi-technology mix, or multi-technology mess. The worst form of broadband infrastructure is fibre to the node. It uses 19th century copper, and in most jurisdiction the proportion to fibre to the node is around 40 per cent. In Western Australia it is 60 per cent. We're getting even more of the worst form of NBN technology, and it will create a significant and lasting digital divide in Western Australia. It should never have been allowed to occur in the first place. It must be addressed. The basic quality benchmark of 90 per cent of premises getting 50 megabits per second or better—the national quality benchmark that the government set for the NBN—will not be met in Western Australia, by some considerable margin. Most parts of Australia will have one in 10 premises not receiving fast broadband. In Western Australia it will be more than one in five.

Finally, I'd like to offer my condolences to the family of Ted Hobson, who died on Tuesday. Ted was a long-time and active member of the Fremantle community. In recognition of his long commitment to the good function of the Fremantle branch of the Labor Party and his unstinting participation in Labor campaigns, state and federal, over decades, Ted was appropriately honoured with an outstanding service award. I'm personally grateful to have had the benefit of Ted's support, encouragement and friendship. I know my predecessors Melissa Parke and Carmen Lawrence and my state colleagues Simone McGurk and Jim McGinty also benefited from that support. I'm grateful that I had the chance to share a few words with Ted while he was getting a haircut at Kennedy's on South Terrace, down the road from my office, a few weeks ago.

Ted was a gentleman. He was a man for principle. He was a stickler for good process, particularly in Labor branch meetings. When he was engaged on an issue, he was steady and insistent but always courteous and reasoned. He was a loving and supportive husband to his wife, Jean. And Jean and Ted together have been a powerful duo in their service to, and participation in, community life and the Labor Party. I send my best wishes and condolences to Jean and to their daughters.