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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 September 2015) . . Page.. 3383 ..

businesses and customers become all the more important—Ms Fitzharris spoke to this in some detail in her comments—being an internet backwater means we are undermining our own economy and the future of our prosperity.

Ms Fitzharris’s motion notes that Canberra residents have connected to the NBN at a very high rate. I think it would be more accurate to say that Civic and Gungahlin residents have connected to the NBN at a very high rate—because, as she accurately noted, other parts of Canberra have been absolutely stymied from joining up. If they had had the opportunity, I am sure that rate of connection would have been duplicated across the rest of the city.

The recent change of Prime Minister and the subsequent change of the communications minister provide us with an ideal opportunity for a reset on what has become another toxic debate in the federal parliament. Senator Fifield needs to place a renewed NBN at the top of his priority list. He needs to move the coalition away from their fixation on fibre to the node, which was only ever a point of political differentiation. I understand the shadow communications spokesperson, Jason Clare, has extended an olive branch offering to work on a cost and technology fix for this lumbering and wounded project. My federal Greens colleague Senator Scott Ludlam has already worked tirelessly over many years to try and improve the NBN for all Australians and to defend the project from those who sought to undermine it. I have no doubt he would also work with Minister Fifield to help resurrect this important nation-building infrastructure.

Just last week, when a triumphant Mr Turnbull addressed the media after the coalition party room vote, he said:

The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative. We can’t be defensive, we can’t futureproof ourselves. We have to recognise that the disruption that we have seen driven by technology, the volatility in change is our friend if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.

It is time for the Turnbull coalition government to prove that these are not merely words but that they are serious about addressing the challenges this country faces. It is time for Prime Minister Turnbull to fix the mess that has been made of the NBN. In light of that, I am happy to support the motion put forward by Ms Fitzharris today. The importance of this infrastructure for the future of our country is undeniable, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss it in the Assembly today.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Planning, Minister for Roads and Parking, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Minister for Children and Young People and Minister for Ageing) (11.25): l thank Ms Fitzharris for bringing forward this important motion, and I will speak briefly regarding the effect the deconstruction of Labor’s NBN will have on the residents of my electorate in Brindabella. There are several areas in my electorate which have always had very limited access to the internet. Indeed, some residents of Theodore do not even have access to an ADSL2 connection. The national broadband network which was being rolled out by Labor would have seen all of the residences in my electorate connected to world-class fibre to the premises as their internet access.

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