Adjournment – Year in Review, NBN
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (12:35): Tomorrow, Bundaberg will become the first city in Queensland to connect to the NBN fibre-to-the-node network. As many in this place will already know, I fought hard to ensure my region was one of 10 trial sites prioritised nationally. As a result, Bundaberg will be the second location in Australia to receive the FTTN. Bundaberg’s main street and neighbouring areas like Avenell Heights, Thabeban, Norville, Bundaberg South and Bundaberg East will be the first to make the switch. The surrounding areas will also be connected in coming weeks, bringing the total number to 24,000. The National Broadband Network will transform local education and health services, enabling businesses to better engage in the rapidly evolving digital economy. The NBN will help create jobs.
FTTN construction will begin in the southern end of the Hinkler electorate in 2017 to connect 19,000 premises in Craignish, Dundowran, Dundowran Beach, Eli Waters, Kawungan, Nikenbah, Pialba, Point Vernon, Scarness, Toogoom, Torquay, Urraween and Wondunna. FTTN construction will also start in Avoca, Branyan, Millbank, Burnett Heads, Coral Cove, Elliott Heads, Innes Park, Childers, Woodgate, Howard, Burrum Heads, River Heads, Booral and Urangan in 2018. About 20 wireless towers are either operational or under construction across Hinkler’s many rural communities. By the end of 2018, about 70,000 Hinkler premises will be able to connect to the NBN. This is just one of the things that I have helped deliver to my electorate in 2015.
Tomorrow, local businesses will attend an Austrade seminar to discuss how the recently signed free trade agreements will enable them to expand into new markets and create jobs. Yesterday, I spoke about a proposal to create a military dive wreck in my region which would boost the local economy by up to $5 million a year and create more jobs. I tabled a petition containing 4,042 signatures. I have written to Bundaberg’s mayoral candidates seeking a commitment of $1 million to match what has been provided already by the Fraser Coast Regional Council. I have also written to the Queensland Premier to seek an urgent meeting about the future of HMAS Tobruk. Until the Queensland government indicates it is willing to accept the vessel as a gift for scuttling in state waters, we are unable to further progress our case.
I have spoken about unemployment in this place more times than I care to remember. Jobs are sorely needed, which is why I am trying to attract investment to the region for the long term. State member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and I successfully lobbied the state Labor government to maintain the previous LNP plan to build a gas pipeline to the Bundaberg port. This is already attracting major international companies to the underutilised site. The coalition government is doing everything it can in the meantime to give job seekers a hand up. I am concerned that many people are not aware of the assistance that is available, which is why I will host a community jobs forum in Hervey Bay in the new year. Taskforce Cadena, a multi-agency task force, was established to target unscrupulous contract labour hire contractors in the horticulture sector. Cadena has made some progress, but I look forward to receiving an update from the relevant ministers in the new year.
The coalition has made significant progress on the introduction of country-of-origin food labelling laws. Minister for Health Sussan Ley and I hosted a meeting for local GPs to discuss ways we can make Medicare more sustainable. Assistant Minister for Science Karen Andrews and I hosted a community forum encouraging businesses to innovate and young people to pursue a career in science, engineering or maths. The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, visited the electorate. We hosted a community forum about national security and border control at the Bundaberg RSL. This year, of course, we marked the Centenary of Anzac. I had the absolute pleasure of attending many events across the electorate. My office received an Inclusive Community Champions award for excellence and accessibility from Spinal Life Australia. With the help of my dedicated staff, I have made strong representations to ministers on behalf of individual constituents and organisations, delivering some very positive results. Over the next few weeks, I will announce the successful applicants in the coalition government’s Stronger Communities Program.
I would like to thank patron senator Senator James McGrath for his support and, of course, thank my staff for their dedication. As everyone in this place knows, they are the keeper of the gate. They are the soldiers on the wall. We could not do this job without them.
In my last statement in this place for the year, can I say we are all thinking of our former colleague, the late Don Randall, and Don’s family. I am sure our sense of loss is as a raindrop in a thunderstorm to that felt by Don’s nearest and dearest.
I would especially like to thank the people of Hinkler for engaging with me, for sharing their views with me and for keeping me informed of the issues that matter to them. Next year I will undergo my first performance review as the member for Hinkler—99,049 Hinkler constituents will have their say. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have worked extremely hard in my first term to be the representative that the people of Hinkler deserve. If I am elected to serve another term, I will continue to give the role my all.