News Parliament


It is a great pleasure to be able to make a contribution to this matter of public importance. I think it is fair to say that the manner in which this MPI has been brought to this place by the member for Greenway has been churlish and very negative. It is been full of confected outrage, but I do give the member for Paterson some credit because, even though I did not agree with a word that she said, she at least used some rhyme in her MPI speech and you do not hear that very often in parliament. Despite the churlish display from the member for Greenway and the very negative nature in which it was brought to this place, there is a silver lining.

It gives me the great opportunity to tell the House about some of the wonderful things that are happening with the NBN rollout in regional Australia. There is no greater example of that than last week when the NBN network was officially switched on in the great city of Orange. I was there for that occasion, when 9,250 homes and businesses in Orange were officially connected to the NBN; the remaining 9,800 homes and businesses will be progressively connected over the next months. That is terrific news for our area. Those new homes and businesses join about 3500 premises that are already connected around the city of Orange, including Glenroi, Lucknow, March, Orange West, Spring Creek, Spring Hill town. There are many other people in our area who are now eligible to connect to the NBN through Sky Muster. We are all very excited about that.

Ms Rowland interjecting

Mr GEE: The confected outrage continues, Mr Deputy Speaker. Despite the confected outrage, by November the rollout of the NBN on the Orange network will be complete with more than 19,000 Orange homes and businesses able to access fast and reliable broadband. It is important for regional Australia because—the member for Hume nods in agreement—it is all about bridging the great divide between the city and the country and bridging the tyranny of distance.

Where did we have this launch in Orange? At a company called Focus, and their business is selling cloud based data analytics software. It is a great new high-tech company in Orange. They currently employ 110 people, with 35 staff in Orange, but they actually want to double that. And now that Orange is connected to the NBN they will be able to do that—supplying, developing and growing regional jobs in our area.

For example, I had the pleasure of meeting Phocas CEO, Phil Dodds, there and one of his support managers, Anthony D'Amico, a local man who has finished high school and who is now working as the Phocas support manager. This is a company that services its software all around the world from Orange. So it is an international company doing all of this from Orange in regional New South Wales, all made possible by the NBN.

Mr Vasta: We back people there!

Mr GEE: Yes, we back them—we back them and we support them, and we want more of them to come to country New South Wales. CEO, Phil Dodds, said to me, 'I could have set this business up anywhere in this country, but I chose Orange, and as long as the NBN is there we will be able to develop the business and continue to grow it.' So it is wonderful news for country New South Wales and country Australia. It is a wonderful thing.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you can imagine what a disaster it would have been had the other side had control of such a huge project. We all remember the Building the Education Revolution. We all have school halls which are overpriced and too small—not fit for purpose. There were the pink batts—you name it, Mr Deputy Speaker. But it is not just about high-tech companies. We are a major mining centre; we have Australia's largest gold mine right on the fringes of Orange.

Health: Orange is a major health hub. All over Western New South Wales they are linked up through the internet into Orange so that the professionals in Orange can provide mental health advice. The physicians are all connected as well through that network, so it is very important for regional Australia. And so despite the churlish display by the members opposite, we are delighted that the NBN is rolling out through country Australia.

Mr Stephen Jones: It's the Canobolas killer!

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Before I call the member for Longman, I will remind members that while this is a free-ranging debate the exuberance is taking off. I remind the shadow minister and member for Whitlam that using his hands as a megaphone is unparliamentary behaviour.