Senate debates

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010

In Committee

5:48 pm

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I have heard some wide-ranging debate here, some debate, certainly from the opposition, that does not make much sense. I am just trying to bring this back to what the realities are for this nation in terms of its productivity, its international efficiency and being able to provide the Australian community with the best possible access to the technology of the future—and what is that? That is the NBN.

Yet all we have heard from the other side are attempts to wreck it. We heard Senator Joyce today. You have only to go back to what Senator Joyce said last week, and that is—it is no secret—that not only is this about trying to destroy one of the greatest and most effective propositions that this country has seen and that will take us into the new technology approach, but that it is also quite clear that the opposition see an opportunity to try and destroy the government through trying to destroy the NBN. That is what it is all about, and we know why that is: they are extremely unhappy because they are still sitting on the opposition benches. The Australian public were not prepared to put them in government, and they were not prepared to do that because they knew that the opposition were not prepared to embrace the technology of the future, and the technology of the future is the National Broadband Network.

Those opposite would see the regions of Australia denied access to high-speed broadband simply for their own political objectives—very base objectives, let me say. They are objectives that have nothing to do with the national interest; they are simply about trying to destroy a major initiative for this country and trying to destroy a government that has some vision about where we go on technology—a government that recognises that young people in this country, businesses in this country and consumers in this country should have the best. But what would the opposition do? They would say to wait until we see some fairytale technology appear on the horizon, and that fairytale technology will be the technology that supersedes the National Broadband Network. They know that is a nonsense. They know that is not a credible proposition. They know that is simply about the worst type of politics—trying to stop a major initiative on broadband for this country.

Telstra, we are being told, has a gun at their heads. The only gun that is being held to anyone’s head is the gun that the coalition are holding to the heads of the Australian community. They are holding a gun to the heads of the Australian community by denying them access to the best technology.

I do go into the bush now and again. As I said yesterday, one of the areas I look after is New England, and the engineering businesses in New England want their businesses to have the same access that businesses in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and the other capital cities have. They want to be able to compete from regional Australia. They want to build regional Australia for the future and they want to do that through the National Broadband Network. They know and they accept that there is only one party that has the way forward for the future of this economy, and that is the Australian Labor Party. The Luddites in the Liberal Party would walk away from or destroy new technology if they thought that gave them a competitive political position. Well, we are not about competitive political positions. We are about the national interest, and it is about time the opposition put the national interest before their base political interests. The national interest is about dragging this country—after 11½ years of economic and technological incompetence on the part of the Liberal-National coalition—into the new century and into a position where we can compete internationally with companies around the world.

That is the benefit of the National Broadband Network. The National Broadband Network delivers. It delivers for the community, for business and for the nation. And the opposition would walk away from that. That is what we have seen demonstrated here.

We had Senator Joyce on his feet. I do not know what Senator Joyce’s expertise is. He certainly has no financial expertise; that is why he was sacked as economic spokesperson for the coalition. He is now demonstrating that he has no competence and no understanding, absolutely no idea, of what is needed in this country in terms of the technology of the future. Senator after senator on the other side have stood in here and demonstrated that they are prepared to put their political interests before the interests of the nation.

I want the community in New England, the community in Tamworth and the community in Armidale to have access to the best broadband available. That is what we need. We need appropriate technology, good technology, the best technology available, to make sure that we can compete internationally. Those opposite are not interested in competition. You actually proved that over the 11½ years in which you sat back and did nothing in terms of the challenges that were facing this country. But you have the hide, the cheek, to come in here and lecture us about what we are doing. What we are doing is acting in the national interest. What we are doing is making sure that we can compete internationally. What we are doing is making sure that the national interest comes first.


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