What we heard from the minister at the table, the Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government and Assistant Cabinet Secretary, was more of the spin and hypocrisy that has characterised this government's attitude from the get-go.
You only have to look at the article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 19 February 2014 under the headline 'Coalition lied about true cost of NBN'. We had this person sitting at the table, the minister, and the then shadow communications minister telling us for years that the NBN under Labor was going to cost $90 billion—and they repeated this often. But we see in this article that when Minister Fletcher was asked:
… if the $90 billion estimate was then a 'political figure' floated to win votes, Mr Fletcher admitted that the figure was also wrong.
As the shadow minister said:
They just lied. They made that figure up.
I have a suggestion for the minister: maybe you should go back to Palmerston Hospital, dig a few more holes and fill them in with concrete—because that is what he is good at doing.
Only today we see yet another leak, and every member opposite spruiking an approach based on deception. And they should know about deception. Today in the Sydney Morning Herald we see the headline 'Trials point to cheaper fibre option'—oh, really! The article goes on to say about this new approach:
Its apparent success suggests that at the same time as costs of the federal government's fibre-to-the-node model have increased, the costs of the alternative fibre-to-the-premises option preferred by the pre4vious Labor government may be coming down.
Well, who would have thought that that would be the case!
But you do not have to just take it from me. I think we should take it from a few people those on the other side would probably tend to agree with—someone like the Deputy Prime Minister, who said:
Most people are in agreement that copper like is becoming redundant.
The Copper age was 5,300 years ago, and that is where copper belongs.
So we have the Deputy Prime Minister saying, in his own words, that the approach of this government and this minister at the table is wrong. But you do not just have to take it from him. I think it was the now very senior Senator Nash who actually coined the phrase 'fraudband' in 2007, when she bagged fibre-to-the-node technology, and said:
It's widely understood in the telecommunications industry that FTTN will not deliver improved broadband speeds to rural and regional areas.
But if you do not want to take it from Senator Nash, let us have a look at Senator Barry O'Sullivan. Senator Barry O'Sullivan was quoted in an article in The Age of November 2014 under the headline 'NBN snub for Western Queensland sparks rift in coalition'. Who thought there would be a rift in the coalition? The article read:
Sparks are flying within the coalition as fiery Nationals Senator Barry O'Sullivan takes aim at Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull for subjecting rural communities to 'third world' services.
'It's a shame on our nation,' Senator O'Sullivan said.
And here is the good bit:
I'm embarrassed to be part of a party whose government would allow this to continue.
That was Senator Barry O'Sullivan—and he should be embarrassed.
In this debate we have heard all the spin and all the lines trotted out by the backbench opposite—everyone repeating the same stuff. In my contribution to this debate, I primarily focused on actual real world constituents—those that I share partly with the member for Chifley in Blacktown—who know they are getting ripped off, who know that their children are missing out and who know that their small businesses are missing out and cannot properly function because of the abject failure by this government.
You only have to look at the evidence. Under this government we continue to slip in the universal broadband rankings. Australia is slipping under this government
There has been nothing but untruths and spin from this government. These constituents know that this Prime Minister has failed them. He promised 'faster, sooner, more affordable'—fail, fail, fail. His key promise to deliver minimum speeds by the end of this year did not even last the first year of this government. It did not even see out 2013. In fact, it was probably the first key promise this government broke. It was an abject failure, and all of their spin will not convince the people of Australia that they are getting a good deal under this government.