Page 3390 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 September 2015

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former Prime Minister called the NBN a video entertainment system. Those were his words. And do not think for a second that this could be written off as simply an Abbott bungle. The failures of the NBN were overseen by the former communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who now sits in the PM’s chair. The responsibilities for these failures lie in the Liberal government as a whole.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.48): It is interesting to get the lecture from those opposite but I cast my mind back to the insulation scandal, again promised for a certain amount and never delivered, with deadly consequences in some circumstances, and very sad. There was the building the education revolution, of course, and the enormous blowouts there. There were promises of a computer for every kid. And nobody had any confidence in the $43 billion, the back of the envelope number that was originally touted by the Labor Party. And I think the difficulties they had delivering it when they were in office are symptomatic of the delivery of large projects like this. The federal government will now have to prove that they can do better, and as is so often the case Liberal governments come in and clean up the mess that Labor left.

It is interesting to get the lecture today. From 1995 to about 1998 under the Carnell government Canberra led the world in this. The TransACT wiring of Aranda was breathtaking at its time, and then the project called on TransACT to wire the ACT, which started under the previous government and then languished and eventually died under this government. So it is great to get the lecture. Just remember your history. We actually had the opportunity and at one stage were leading the world in this but under Labor in the last 15 years the project withered and then died. And that is a shame. It is well and good with the pot calling the kettle black here but we could have and should have, as a territory, continued to lead the world. The failure of leadership, the failure of delivery and the failure to make it happen rest well and truly with those on the other side of this chamber.

MS FITZHARRIS (Molonglo) (11.50), in reply: I thank members today for their contribution and also for their support of this motion. I am pleased that support will come from across the chamber and I look forward to getting a response from the new communications minister. Just reflecting on some of the debate we have had—and again I thank the opposition for their support—I was not entirely reassured about their full understanding of what this major infrastructure program means, what it means as an enabler for our community and our economy and also for equity across the city in terms of access and what the digital divide really means. I did not hear—and I apologise if he did—Mr Doszpot talk about equity and what it means for our community and schools, as Minister Burch mentioned, across regions and suburbs in Canberra.

I understand that previously there has been recognition that this is an ambitious project. A previous communications minister, Senator Conroy, said that some of the original dates were ambitious. But ambition is not a bad thing to have in a nation-building project. And I agree with Mr Rattenbury; this is, indeed, a nation-building project. That the new NBN being delivered under this federal government is at a fraction of the cost of the former Labor government’s delivery is absolutely not the case. Already an inadequate service has blown out by close to double the original amount—$56 billion.

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