DOCUMENTS;NBN Co. Ltd – 18 Mar 2010

I also rise tonight to speak on the NBN report. NBN is a very positive story for Tasmania. The rollout of the NBN is on track and starting to deliver high-speed broadband to the first premises in Tasmania from this year. As a senator for Tasmania, I thank the Rudd government and the Bartlett government for their contribution to ensuring that Tasmania is moving ahead. To the retail providers that Senator Conroy announced this week on the Mornington proof of concept test centre—that is Primus, Internode and iiNet—I thank them too for their commitment to Tasmania, for their enthusiasm, for their contribution to the development of the technology and for their investment. For Tasmania, strong interest means competition, more choice and better and more innovative services for the people that live there. But of course we still have not heard the Leader of the Opposition in Tasmania come out and say he will continue to support the NBN rollout in Tasmania. He has previously said he supports it, and I appreciate that he said that, but since Mr Abbott has said he is going to take money out of the NBN we have not heard Mr Hodgman come out and say that he will support it.What we have heard this week, though, is a whole pile of scaremongering and allegations of corruption in regard to the Tasmanian government which are pretty rich coming from senators representing the party that gave us Robin Gray and Edmund Rouse. Let us face it, those failed attempts to use bribery and to corrupt the political process ended in jail sentences. We know that the Liberal government were unable to even find enough candidates to run in Franklin in Tasmania. They had to get a failed candidate from the Family First party to run. We know she has got the support of Senator Abetz, so she has had a bit of favouritism. They come in here and they talk on and on and ridicule the Tasmanian government, but the Tasmanian Bartlett government is a forward-moving, forward-thinking government and I hope the people of Tasmania acknowledge that on Saturday when they go to the polls.

Earlier this week Senator Bushby, and I am pleased he is here to hear this, did not mind attacking a previous member of the Legislative Council. To my mind, her only fault—if they are going to fault her, and I do not fault her for this—is that she was an extremely hardworking member and supported the people of Pembroke. But, no, Senator Bushby had to come in here the other night and, amongst other disgusting and scurrilous attacks he made on a previous minister, bring her personal life into the debate. It is an absolutely inappropriate way for them to behave. The comments made the other night in regard to Allison Ritchie are scandalous and completely lacking in moral fortitude. Across the political divide, in case Senator Bushby had not realised this, there are a number of politicians who employ family members on their staff. His concern about Allison Ritchie was that she employed members of her family on her staff. In fact, although government ministers cannot hire close relatives, there are no restrictions on MPs. But obviously it is okay if it is on their side! I could name a few but I do not think that there is any point in doing that. This is full of great hypocrisy: they can do what they like but when it comes to somebody in the Labor Party, no matter where, if they are not labelling them with some 1940s communist type label, which shows you how far in the Dark Ages they are still living, they have to have a go at them for something else.

Let me point out the facts about the staff in Allison Ritchie’s office. Allison was the member for Pembroke from 5 May 2001 until 20 June 2009, so she had a number of different staff members, as she was entitled to. She was looking after the people of Pembroke, as I said. During that time she had three people employed who were in some way related to her. Two of these people were actually employed by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and underwent separate processes. Senator Bushby forgot to mention that the other night.