Senate debates

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Matters of Public Interest

Basslink

1:55 pm

Photo of Guy BarnettGuy Barnett (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I stand today in this matter of public interest debate to speak on the dilatory, negligent and potentially reckless behaviour of the Tasmanian Labor government with respect to the optic fibre cable lying dormant at the bottom of Tasmania’s and Australia’s Bass Strait. The Tasmanian government is currently paying—and has done since 2004—$2 million to the owners of that optic fibre cable. The reason that we have a lack of competition in Tasmania with respect to our broadband services is the Tasmanian government’s dilatory, negligent and potentially reckless behaviour.

The Labor Premier, David Bartlett, says that he wants to be ‘clever, kind and connected’. One thing we know for sure is that he is not connected. He has done little to nothing, together with his Treasurer, Michael Aird, to get Tasmania connected. As I say, $2 million of taxpayers’ money in Tasmania is going down the tube into a big black hole. They have failed to negotiate an arrangement with City Spring Infrastructure, the current owners of the optic fibre cable across the Bass Strait.

I ask the Premier why his government have sat on their hands on that Basslink fibre optic cable since the issue arose in 2004. I hope that Senator Conroy, as the relevant minister at the federal level, can lean on and educate his Tasmanian colleagues so that we get a solution to this very, very important issue and we get competition in Tasmania with respect to broadband services. The Basslink energy cable was completed in 2004 and contained a fibre-optic link capable of increasing Tasmania’s broadband capacity, and it has lain dormant since that time. The Tasmanian government have been unable to come to an agreement with Basslink’s owners. That is the bottom line. It is $2 million a year of taxpayers’ money in Tasmania. Just last week, I talked to Will Hodgman, the Leader of the Opposition in Tasmania.

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