Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Questions without Notice


Photo of Stephen ConroyStephen Conroy (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the senator for his question. In an article in the Australian Financial Review today the member for Wentworth has again used the plan of BT in the UK as the model for his broadband policy. The UK minister responsible for communications, Mr Jeremy Hunt, does not seem to agree with his Conservative colleague on the importance of broadband policy. Yesterday, Minister Hunt emphasised the need to get broadband policy right. Here is what Mr Hunt had to say:

My nightmare is that when it comes to broadband we could make the same mistake as we made with high speed rail.

When our high speed rail network opens from London to Birmingham in 2026 it will be 45 years after the French opened theirs, and 62 years after the Japanese opened theirs. Just think how much our economy has been held back by lower productivity over half a century.

We must not make the same short-sighted mistake. He went on to say, 'We must never fall into the trap of saying any speed is enough. Today's super fast is tomorrow's super slow.' Minister Hunt went on to respond to a House of Lords committee, saying:

… they suggest that fibre to the cabinet is the sum of the government's ambitions. They are wrong. Where fibre to the cabinet is the chosen solution, it is most likely to be a temporary stepping stone to fibre to the home.

That is right, 'a temporary stepping stone to fibre to the home'. Mr Hunt has demonstrated the short-sighted vision of those opposite, particularly the short-sighted, cowardly approach that those down in that far corner are showing on behalf of their constituents.


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