The following is a speech made in Parliament by Federal Member for Bonner Ross Vasta.
You will remember that a couple of weeks ago I spoke in this chamber about one of the biggest issues that adversely affects my electorate—that is, the lack of fast, reliable and affordable broadband. Specifically, I drew to the attention of this House the inequity of Labor’s current NBN rollout schedule, which would see Bonner receive an insulting 10 per cent of the electorate scheduled to commence work within the next three years, with the remaining 90 per cent having no schedule at all.
I remind the House that this inequity is drastically highlighted by the fact that the neighbouring Labor electorates of Griffith, Moreton and Rankin have from 75 per cent to 90 per cent of their work scheduled to commence within three years. Needless to say, the residents of Bonner are furious. They justifiably feel let down by this Labor government yet again. As part of my continued fight for broadband services for my constituents, I spoke to my colleague Malcolm Turnbull, shadow minister for broadband and communications, about my concerns. He kindly offered to come and speak to the people of Bonner about the situation and to answer any questions that they may have.
Last week, over 200 local residents attended the Bonner broadband and communication forum at the Carindale PCYC. Countless questions were put to Mr Turnbull about the NBN and the coalition’s future communications plan. It soon became obvious that part of the problem with the NBN’s three-year rollout program is that it does not outline when people will actually receive services. People have no idea where they stand and when and if they will receive any benefit from the program at all. The reason for this is that the NBN has continually shifted the goalposts in the statistics they report, from telling when they will have an active service to telling people when the construction will begin in their area. The shadow minister highlighted the two main problems with the rollout schedule: firstly, that Labor failed to prioritise those areas with poor broadband, such as suburbs like Wakerley, Manly West, Gumdale, Ransome and Mansfield, to name just a few; and, secondly, that Labor have chosen the most expensive and time-consuming means of delivering upgrades.
Most present felt that it was not good enough and many were just plain fed up. They want to know where they stand. I once again call on the Labor government to provide the Bonner constituents with up-to-date and accurate information regarding when and if they will receive the NBN to their suburb. I want to thank Mr Turnbull for caring for the people of Bonner. They deserve to have the broadband services that they require. I also want to thank Sergeant David Beard, who kindly assisted us with the outstanding community facility at the Carindale PCYC.
This month Bonner was also fortunate to have a visit from the shadow minister for seniors, the Hon. Bronwyn Bishop. In that role, Bronwyn Bishop has travelled the country and in the last 12 months she has visited 33 electorates, spoken at 54 forums and reached over 8,500 senior Australians. She reached more than 200 seniors when she conducted a forum at the Belmont Services Club. There was no doubt that people came to see Bronwyn Bishop in person not to just hear what she had to say but because they wanted to meet her face to face. It became obvious that there is such a high interest in the electorate because senior citizens have been let down by what the Gillard government has been doing through their mismanagement of the economy, including the introduction of a carbon tax which will reach into each and every nook and cranny of their lives and, most recently, the introduction of means testing for the private health insurance rebate. Story after story showed that this government is hurting senior Australians most as they cannot afford these continuing downward pressures on their fixed incomes. It is best to conclude with a statement about Mrs Bishop made to me at the forum by one of my constituents. He said, ‘Isn’t she wonderful’. I think both sides of this House will agree with the statement.