National Broadband Network Companies Bill 2010

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (3.23 pm)—I have been following the debate in the House today on this legislation and the amendments with great interest. I want to put on the record that I was quite astounded and moved to participate today by the contribution of the member for Tangney. That was an astounding contribution to the debate. I do not think that it progressed the case of those opposite at all. The interesting thing about the progress of the debate about the rollout of fast and ubiquitous broadband in this nation over many years now is the increasingly smaller circle that those opposite have debated themselves into.

There is no doubt that this nation needs to take the next step to fast and ubiquitous broadband to increase our productivity and our participation and also provide social benefits of inclusion and equity.

Mr McCormack—This could be a speech on the carbon tax.

Ms BIRD—I would have thought that that would have been a fairly uncontested statement, but obviously those opposite cannot even agree with that. They cannot even agree that fast broadband being rolled out across the nation is an important step for the economic and social development of the nation. I must say that I am quite astounded that there would be an argument with that statement.

If you take the view that this is what is needed to progress our nation both economically and socially then the next question becomes how you best achieve that. Over the 11 years that those opposite were in government, they made 19 failed attempts to find a resolution to that question in the national interest.

After those 19 failed attempts, they took another one to the election. The reality is that we are now in an international circumstance in which to compete as a nation that is faced with the tyranny of distance not only within our nation but in connecting to our export markets internationally it is time to bite the bullet and roll out the best quality national broadband that we can, and that is fibre to the home. And that is what we have committed to.

In the time since the 2007 election as we have been progressing that agenda in order to deliver this outcome, those opposite have found excuse after excuse to delay and to slow down the process. I do not quite know what for. I sincerely believe, as I have said on other occasions in this place, that even those sitting opposite, including the shadow minister for communications, know that this is one of those debates in this place that those opposite will not want their grandchildren to go back and read in the Hansard. I believe that they know that to be the case. The member for Greenway has put some wonderful quotes from history on the record in this place. We well know the history of important and significant infrastructure developments. We know how we look back on those who attempted to obstruct and oppose them in the past.

We look back with fond mirth at their claims about the problems with those particular rollouts. I suggest that many of our grandchildren will look back at some of the contributions from the other side in this debate in disbelief. They will not believe that this could have been an issue that we were debating. Sincerely, they will not.

Members from regional areas on the other side understand that and understand how important to their regional economies and communities the rollout of fast broadband will be. In particular, when you go round regional communities you hear of many examples of new types of industries developing. Professionals —for example, engineers, designers, employment coordinators and all sorts of other people who are delivering services—are able to provide services from their homes and not leave their regional communities.

The one thing that you hear all the time—such as from the gentleman in my electorate who runs an international stock exchange from home—is that they need safe, fast and symmetric broadband to be able to continue to expand and take further opportunities.

This is critical national infrastructure. It is time to stop mucking around for political purposes. The filibustering, the delay and the tactics to destroy this employed by the other side are not in the national interest. We need to get on with the task.