Federal Parliament - Morrison Government

November 12, 2020

Dr ALYIt was Estée Lauder, the global cosmetics giant, who famously marketed her wares as jars of hope on the promise that they could deliver much-sought-after eternal youth to millions and millions of women. I have always thought there was something inherently cruel about that—something inherently cruel about promising people something that you couldn't or wouldn't ever be able to deliver. Don't get me wrong; I certainly believe that hope is a powerful force. Indeed, I have come to rely on hope many more times in my life than I care to recall. But you can't eat hope. You can't feed your children hope. You can't pay the mortgage with hope. You certainly can't erase wrinkles with hope. And you can't connect to the internet with hope.

This Government, led by a marketing man, tries to sell itself on hope. And how often have we seen this? How often have we seen the big announcements, the press conferences? It is a whole lot of fanfare, and then they just scurry away, back to their suites, off to another media engagement, as Australians wait—in hope. I have here a folder of no less than 58 pages of examples where the government has made an announcement, with huge fanfare, and then failed to deliver, on aged care, bushfire recovery, child care, reforms to the Family Court, funding for the arts, cybersecurity, defence, agriculture, jobs, education, training, emergency management, foreign affairs, national security, infrastructure, tourism, the NDIS, veterans affairs, corruption and integrity—58 pages, across every single one of these portfolios and more. There were big promises, big announcements, but nothing to show for it except a trillion dollars of debt—hope in a jar.

Before the 2013 election Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull—remember them?—promised access to minimum NBN speeds. They said:

"Our goal is for every household and business to have access to broadband with a download data rate of between 25 and 100 megabits per second by late 2016—"

Late 2016! Well, we're now in late 2020—that's four years on—and the copper NBN is still failing to deliver minimum speeds to up to 120,000 households. You can't download hope.

Across Perth's northern suburbs and in my electorate of Cowan, the Government's failure to deliver on its promise has caused significant harm to families, to individuals and to businesses. For example, Kristy in Alexander Heights is still waiting on the NBN. Helen in Greenwood tried to connect to the NBN for two weeks and ended up getting worse speeds than she was getting when she was on ADSL. Her house, although connected to the NBN, utilises fixed wireless, because it's the only option that delivers even the minimal speeds that her family needs in order to do basic internet-based tasks. Joanne in Hocking has been trying to get connected to the NBN and is absolutely frustrated. In fact, she's given up hope, stating: 'I have no faith that this will happen. I have no doubt that my NBN won't be connected anytime soon.' Gillian in Marangaroo has been trying to get on the NBN since July this year, and six months later she's still waiting. Arn in Alexander Heights wrote to me saying that most of the homes in Alexander Heights have been receiving the minimum speed, but not his home, because it's connected to FTTN, utilising old copper, which is the basis for not reaching the minimum speed.

Australians don't need hope in a jar; they don't. They don't need to be sold promises by a marketing man who knows very well how to craft an announcement but doesn't know how to hold a hose.