Standing up for Canberra

Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2015-2016, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2015-2016

I am pleased to have the opportunity tonight to speak on Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2015-2016 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2015-2016. These bills seek to appropriate $2.2 billion in 2015-16, reflecting the changes in the budget that were outlined in the 2015-16 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, which was released by the government in December last year. But it is not what is included in these bills that makes them interesting; it is what is missing.

Missing from these bills is the same thing that was missing from the Treasurer's address at the National Press Club last Wednesday—the Treasurer's address where we got yet again a lecture, a contextualising, as he called it, another statement on the current state of the economy and the challenges we are facing, as if Australians and Canberrans were not aware of that. We got all that but not much else from the Treasurer at the National Press Club last week. It is the same thing that was missing from the Prime Minister's diatribes in question time today and it is what is missing from this government's rhetoric generally every day. That is vision.

A vision for this country, a vision for our future prosperity is absent. Last week the Treasurer spent, what, 47 minutes at the National Press Club. I think he spent 10 minutes in addition to that time thanking all the people who were involved in the development of what was his speech, although it did just seem like a lecture and a continuation of a conversation that he had been having since September last year. But he did not provide any detail, any vision, any plan for our future prosperity.

There are many question marks. This is the government that actually started the conversation with the nation about the fact that we need innovation, the fact that we need science, the fact that we need to be agile and excited. There are still question marks from this government. Even though they have been carping from the sidelines about what we are doing, there are plenty of question marks about what is going on with the capital gains tax.

We heard from the Prime Minister today on capital gains tax. But what is the government's position on capital gains tax? Are there going to be changes? They have been dangling this tax reform plan for months now, and so far we have zip—zero—in terms of detail. So what is the deal with capital gains tax? Are there going to be changes?

What is the deal with negative gearing? Are there going to be changes? Again, there is plenty of carping from the sidelines by this government about what we are doing in terms of our plans, but what is their plan? What is your plan, Prime Minister? What is your vision for this country? What is your vision for our future prosperity?

What is the plan on superannuation? Are there going to be changes on superannuation? Again, it is one big question mark, as it is with tax reform generally. There is lots of chatter. There are lots of conversations. There is lots of contextualising about the fact that we face a challenge as a nation. Yes, we do; but what is the plan? There are lots of questions being raised. There are lots of problems being put out there, but what is the plan? Where are the solutions? There are none from this government. It has no vision for this country. It has no plan for how it is going to ensure our future prosperity.

Contrast that with Labor. We have outlined a very clear vision for our country—50-plus policies—and a very clear vision that was outlined in our national conference last year. Our vision is one where the government will stand up for middle- and working-class families rather than attack them, which is what this government has done since that cruel budget of 2014, which cut into our social fabric and our DNA. We will stand up for working class families and we will stand up for middle class families, rather than attack them.

A Labor government will put people first; with better pay and protected jobs; with better schools and better teachers; a healthier Australia; a 50 per cent renewable energy target, including driving more solar. Labor has a plan. We have outlined our education policy, 'Your Child. Our Future', making sure a needs based school funding model is here to stay.

We have outlined how we will improve the budget by cracking down on multinational tax avoidance, by cracking down on superannuation tax breaks for the very rich, by abolishing the Abbott-Turnbull government Emissions Reduction Fund. And last week we announced that a Shorten Labor government will deliver the most important structural budget reform in a decade, that will help fund health and education, bring some fairness back into the housing market and underwrite our nation's future. Labor will reform negative gearing and the capital gains tax subsidies to ensure that our tax system is fair and sustainable and to ensure that it targets jobs and growth.

We want to level the playing field so first home owners can compete with investors' housing supply, while creating tens of thousands of new construction jobs. We will limit negative gearing to new housing from 1 July 2017. All current investments and any made before this date will not—and I emphasise that—be affected by this change and will be fully grandfathered. No matter what scare campaigns the government is running on this issue, those investments will not be affected by this change and they will be fully grandfathered.

Labor will halve the capital gains tax subsidy for assets purchased after 1 July 2017, and this will reduce the capital gains tax discount for assets that are held longer than 12 months, from the current 50 per cent to 25 per cent. All investments made before this date will not be affected by this change and will be fully grandfathered, no matter what scare campaign is being run by the government. As I said, all investments made before this date will not be affected by this change and will be fully grandfathered.

In contrast, those opposite have no vision. As I said, it is just lots of contextualising, lots of conversations and lots of waiting with bated breath since September last year—no vision, no clarity. There is lots of outlining of the challenges, but not solutions. Just months out from an election, we have a government with no plan.

Today I want to talk a bit about what this government's lack of plans and lack of vision is doing to my electorate of Canberra. If you surveyed the residents of Tuggeranong in my electorate of Canberra, probably one of their No. 1 frustrations with this government would be the fact that they have no certainty about when the NBN is being rolled out—in fact, I am sure you would get a unanimous response. Particularly in the southern part of the electorate, down in the Tuggeranong Valley, their No. 1 frustration would be having no access to NBN and really poor internet access in terms of availability and speed.

Under Labor, every home in the ACT would have had access to a world-class fibre-to-the-premises version of the NBN. But, under this government—despite being the national capital, despite being home to government, despite being home to Defence, despite being home to world-leading universities, despite being home to cultural and scientific institutions—under this Prime Minister, large parts of Canberra are not even on the NBN rollout map. They are not even there. It is just one big blank page in the southern part of my electorate. They are not even on the NBN rollout map. This is despite the fact that these are suburbs that have the lowest rating in the country for both availability and quality of broadband. It is despite the fact that the now Prime Minister originally promised that all homes and businesses would have the NBN by the end of this year.

It is 2016, and Canberrans cannot even find themselves on the map. They are not even potentially recognised as an option in the near future. They are not even there on the map. Let me tell you that they are very angry, particularly down in the Tuggeranong Valley. They are fed up with this second-rate service. In the last couple of months—particularly since I held a forum on NBN last year—I have been inundated with complaints about the terrible internet service Canberrans are currently receiving.

I have also been inundated in recent weeks about the terrible service that iiNet has been providing to Canberrans. I am putting it on the record now; I am taking a very close look at iiNet because, from what I can gather from people in my electorate, the service that iiNet is providing is suboptimal, to say the least—and that is being diplomatic.

I want to read from what some of my constituents have to say about the NBN. This is from Alan; I got it last week:

… I recently moved house, mind you it was literally across the road … At the old property we would achieve ADSL2+ speeds of a poor 4.8mbps down. Sadly I have not got similar speeds as you would expect at the property across the road. On average we only pull about 0.20mbps down and 0.01 up—

And he has given me a screen shot here.

To rub salt into the wound, VDSL2 is available in Fisher through iiNet (TransACTs network). They have confirmed that there is fibre running through the street our cul-de-sac runs off. They have informed me that I am a little over 200m from their 'super node', which would mean that I would be able to get download speeds of close to 80mbps. Problem—they will not upgrade the network into our cul-de-sac. So for me to get access to reliable internet they have advised me that I can pay for the infrastructure, costing $10,366.35 (ex GST), to have them connect the block of 4 units I live in to VDSL2. Who has a spare $10,366.35 (ex GST) to upgrade the internet to a property they rent? Certainly not us!

This is what the Turnbull Government is leaving Canberrans with. Barely usable broadband on the old outdated copper network and leaving many Canberra residents in the dark ages. On top of this they— That is, the connecting people— want to connect us to the antiquated … failing copper network.

Our current connection speed causes us many issues. My Husband is self employed. He is contracted to a major Retailer designing kitchens. Our current connection makes it virtually impossible for him to send and receive the files that he needs to as part of his work. Additionally, he is studying architecture full-time at UC. This means at there are times, even at early hours of the morning, he must drive to the University Campus to access their network to download and send his files. Does Mr Turnbull have to travel at 2 or 3 am in the morning to access reliable internet? I guessing not!

I have also had to delay and withdraw from the University degree I was studying via Distance Education. I commenced a Bachelor of Counter Terrorism Security and Intelligence through Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Campus WA. However, our current speeds prevent me from being able to access my online lectures and tutorials. When I am able to download them, on average it took 2 days to download a single lecture!

Two days! We are talking about the nation's capital here. We are talking about a suburb that is probably 20 minutes from where we are the moment—from Parliament House. It took Alan two days to download a single lecture.

Its time Mr Turnbull realised that he has failed when it comes to the FTTN NBN he is rolling out. His priorities in for the rollout are misplaced. Its an embarrassment for the Nations capital to have speeds such as mine. Why are areas with reliable ADSL being prioritised over areas like Fisher?

There we have one of my constituents talking about the challenges that they and their family are facing with regard to NBN. Here is another, Melanie:

My family lived in Theodore for 7 years and we now live in Calwell. My 3 children go to the local schools and my husband runs a small business from a home office. I am a public servant, I study part time and I often work from home. Slow Internet has a real impact on our day to day lives, our ability to contribute to the economy and our educations. We are a hard working family and we make a genuine contribution through our taxes. Our lives are increasingly reliant on the internet and three years is too long for us to have to wait to have this fixed.

These are just some of the constituents in my electorate who are suffering, who cannot participate in educational opportunities, who cannot participate in small-business opportunities and who cannot participate in active citizenry because of the fact that they are not even on the map and also because of the second-rate system that they are getting as a result of this government.

It is not only the NBN where this government is letting down the people of my electorate. The Abbott and Turnbull governments have shown complete disdain for our nation's capital. This has been made crystal clear in the few parliamentary sitting weeks we have had, so far, this year. We have seen cuts to our national cultural institutions. Most recently, earlier this month it was announced that 350 more jobs would be slashed at CSIRO over the next two years. These jobs are in the area of climate science, and we have learnt today that these job cuts may mean we are breaching our obligations under the Paris agreement on climate change. Since these cuts were announced we have heard from thousands of scientists pointing out that cutting CSIRO's measuring and monitoring capacity will have a devastating impact on Australia's ability to understand and respond to climate change.

This is the damage that this government has inflicted on Canberra this year alone. So much for innovation. So much for agility. So much for a commitment to science. Since 2013 we have seen 8½ thousand Public Service jobs slashed in Canberra alone. The Abbott-Turnbull government has not just presented no vision for my electorate but it has actively hurt my electorate and my community, time and time again. There is no vision for this community —no vision for Canberra, our nation's capital. In fact, for Canberra it is about cuts and contempt.

Download a copy of this speech.