National Broadband Network Companies Bill 2010 - Consideration of Senate Message

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (3:04 PM) —If there were anything that could travel at the speed of light, I wish the conclusion of that speech could have. It is par for the course from the other side. They have all come forward with these contributions merely to keep talking, to drag it out and to avoid the inevitable. The inevitable is wanted by the majority of the public, by industry which sees the value in this and by the regions which see the value. We cannot help the fact that the Nationals have strapped themselves into this car crash of an argument led by the Liberal Party that enjoys this technology within Sydney or Melbourne while in the regions you cannot.

I noticed the member for Cowper in here. I do not know if he actually goes into his own electorate and asks people whether or not they would, if they had an option, choose between wireless or fibre to the home. He has the courage in here to put forward those arguments, but I bet out where it counts with the people who depend on it he says something else. If he does not say something else, it is insane that he is not better representing his constituency because we had a number of these options put forward. We had wireless.

When the member for Sturt was chair of an inquiry that looked into this he actually said that fibre was the best method and that wireless would suit in certain circumstances, and I agree with him. Wireless does suit where we cannot get fibre to the home because geography or other limitations prevent us from doing so. Here we have a chance to roll out the best possible option, fibre, and they keep harping on about wireless or HFC. As we have previously pointed out, HFC is basically the platform that delivers pay TV and the minute you have multiple connections in a home the signal strength or the ability of that to deliver is compromised. Those opposite are continually arguing that we should embrace, as has been identified by other people, second-rate options when it comes to broadband in this country. People are not putting up with it.

The opposition continues to come in here to try to stymie this, but the fact of the matter is that the bulk of people outside see that there are huge benefits that will flow from getting this bill through. I note that the member for Greenway picked up on the member for Wentworth’s belief that he could not find the productivity benefits that would flow from such a development. He was arguing, according to the member for Greenway, that he could not find those productivity benefits in South Korea. You do not necessarily need to go to South Korea, even though the quote has been pointed out. Come back here and talk to people such as Marco Marcou, MAP Venture Capital partner, who stated last year:

The facts are that broadband penetration and economic growth go hand in hand, so what’s the argument about? Let’s just do it and get on with it.

Indeed. And I think that if he were here today he would be stunned that we have an alternative government that is stepping forward here but cannot see the benefits of getting this critical piece of infrastructure in place to unleash further economic growth.

I have seen other reports that for instance talk about the impact of traffic congestion in Sydney and Melbourne. They have put an economic value on it of $8 billion being lost through traffic congestion in Sydney. In Melbourne it is $3 billion. There are moves to try to improve it. The NBN allows more home based work for people, where it is permissible, which will take traffic off the roads. People, particularly those I represent in Western Sydney, who do not want to commute from the west of Sydney to the east of Sydney, or those who are stuck in traffic jams in Melbourne, can find other ways to work. Which other governments recognise this? In the US, President Obama and his administration are looking at ways of encouraging public servants to take advantage of home based work, again, to reduce the pressure on infrastructure in cities. These are the types of opportunities unleashed by having a national broadband network in place that allows for this type of thing to occur. Yet again it is being stopped by the other side. Again, we are forced to sit here arguing back and forth on this instead of getting on with the job of delivering exactly what the community, the nation and industry want.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr S Sidebottom)—Are there other speakers? The member for Greenway.
Mr Pyne —You are hopeless.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I ask you to retract that statement. Come to the dispatch box and retract the statement. It was unparliamentary, so I am asking you to withdraw it.
Mr Pyne —I withdraw the word ‘hopeless’.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I ask you to withdraw without qualification.
Mr Pyne —I withdraw, Mr Deputy Speaker.

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley

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