Wednesday 20 July
E & OE
It’s great to be
back in the Communications portfolio.
There’s always a
little bit of nervousness while you wait for the call from the Prime Minister
after an election. And my staff were trying to work out how to know when I’d
got the call. They decided if they heard Joy
Division coming from my office that they were stuffed. If they heard the Pet Shop Boys, all was well. So Pet Shop Boys it was.
Thanks so much
for having me here with you tonight. It’s
particularly exciting to be here, as this is my first ACOMMs Awards. The ACCOMs
have been described to me as the Academy Awards of the Australian telecoms
industry. But as I looked at the behaviour earlier I think it’s more Logies
than Oscars. Which I guess makes our hosts John Stanton and Graeme Lynch the
Karl and Lisa of the ACCOM’s. I’ll leave it to them to work out which is which.
It’s also great
to be here with the Comms Alliance Chair and former Minister Michael Lee. Can I
say it’s always great to see people who have served the nation in high office
giving back to public policy.
But I must
confess Michael, I do have a little difficulty reconciling the man I see before
me tonight with the person who was undoubtedly the funkiest and coolest
Minister in the Keating Government. Handsome. Debonair. Eligible batchelor. At
every opening night. Dating Mimi MacPherson.
Michael, what happened? I can only put it down to the ravages of the
Welcome also to
my ministerial colleague, Paul Fletcher, an old boy of this portfolio. You’ve
probably all noticed. Paul is so smooth. He’s so metropolitan. So I should advise
you that there was an error at Government House yesterday with the swearing in
of Paul as the Minister for Urban Infrastructure. There was a typo in Paul’s Commission.
Paul was meant to be sworn in as the Minister for Urbane Infrastructure.
Welcome also to
my parliamentary colleagues, Jason Clare and Ed Husic. No-one
could hope for a more decent shadow than Jason Clare. Along with Ed Husic, he’s
one of the really nice guys of the Parliament.
But it’s taken
Jason some practice to become the well-rounded politician we know and love. We
all need mentors. Jason has Bob Carr as one of his. In fact Bob was Jason’s
voice coach. He taught him everything about projection and dropping the voice
an octave or two. The deeper the voice, the more serious the issue.
Please. Please. Promise you’ll draw the line at the Carr voice. I’m
going to worry if you start talking about a desire for “steel-cut oats” or for “a
concave abdomen defined by deep cut obliques”. Those who are familiar with the
Bob Carr diaries will know what I’m referring to.
And just a quick
NBN rollout update for Jason: in your electorate of Blaxland there are now
19,000 premises ready-for-service and 13,000 premises with an active NBN
service. That’s up from a grand total of 7 premises at the time our good friend
Stephen Conroy left office.
And I convey apologies
from Stephen Conroy tonight. He and Mike Quigley are in a dark room together
somewhere rocking backwards and forwards. Mike. Stephen. If you’re tuned in. Some advice. Just let go…
And Ed. I
shouldn’t neglect you. In Chifley there are now 25,000 premises ready-for
service and 18,000 premises with an active NBN connection. Up from 80 premises at
the time of the 2013 election.
It’s also great
to have NBN Chairman Ziggy Switkowski here with us as well. We all know Ziggy kept a low profile over the campaign.
Okay, to be fair. Ziggy did
take those dusty old caretaker conventions out for a bit of a spin. Followed closely
by Martin Parkinson channelling a bit of Borat
telling Ziggy, “Naughty naughty!”
It’s also great
to have Julia Zemiro here as MC for the evening. Julia is multi-talented. She’s
an Australian media icon. But for me Julia is Eurovision. And given the national significance of Eurovision, particularly in the wake
of Dami, I can tonight announce, with apologies to Foxtel, that Eurovision will
be added to the anti-siphoning list.
Now I know over the election period you’ve all been
worried about me. Which is why I was a bit surprised that my phone didn’t ring.
At first I put that down to a Telstra outage. Hey, don’t you laugh Voda!
Then I thought maybe I’d lost my new telecoms friends,
that stakeholders were perhaps hedging their bets. But I realised, you just
thought I was very busy campaigning and didn’t want to bother me. So thank you.
Now a number of
you will have read speculation that the Nationals may have had an interest in
the Communications portfolio. I can
assure you. Not true.
And there’s no
truth to the rumour that the Nationals wanted to re-nationalise Telstra and
change its name back to the Postmaster General’s Department.
I mean. As if!
What sort of Government would establish a 100% government-owned telecoms
monopoly in this day and age?
But I can share
with you a few Nationals asks from the top-secret Coalition agreement.
of the ABC will move to Tamworth
Fran Kelly and
Patricia Karvelas will now host a dedicated country and western radio station -
the soon to be re-branded ‘Radio
The job of ABC
Managing Director will become a job-share between Michelle Guthrie and ‘Australia
All Overs’ Macca. She’ll do the day shift and he’ll do the night shift.
Finally, and not
related to the Coalition agreement. At the urging of the Treasurer the
headquarters of the SBS will be relocated to its natural home in the Sutherland
But it has indeed
been something of a watershed year for regional telecommunications.
The Mobile Black
Spot Programme is now rolling out at a pace, and is already up to its third
funding round. The first two rounds focussed on improving mobile
coverage for safety and emergency services. But Round 3 will focus on improving coverage in
areas where it is too difficult to catch Pokemon.
Also, it was good that NBN’s Skymuster satellite
didn’t blow up on launch. The
experts at NBN tell me that one of the greatest risks to a satellite exploding
on launch is a leak - from the fuel tank.
Let’s face it. NBN
should know a thing or two about leaks causing major blow-ups.
Which reminds me, I should formally advise that the
exits here tonight have been locked. At the conclusion of this evening there
will be AFP officers at the exits there and there. Nothing to worry about. Just
a quick search and a few questions.
And while we’re
on the election, wasn’t it a great windfall opportunity for the communications
sector? There’s never a more exciting
time to be a telco than at election time. It’s good for business. Revenue coming in from all those
millions of Mediscare robocalls to old ladies late at night. Not to mention a
million fake Medicare text messages. Such is Labor’s commitment to telco
And for the
Coalition’s part, we didn’t neglect the Commercial Broadcasters with a windfall
from TV ads with fake tradies that turned out to be real tradies.
In fact, in my
other portfolio, the creative sector even ran its own political party, called
the Arts Party. If the Arts sector and the Trade Union movement can have their
own political wings, why can’t the Communications sector? You’ve got a mighty arsenal at
your disposal. You can scare whoever you want with your legion of call centre
staff. And if you
don’t like what your opponents are saying via your network, you can engineer an
“unexpected service outage”.
beginning to understand why we’re so keen to have the NBN rolled out to 95% of
all premises by the next election. The plan is, if it looks like we’re losing, I’ll
be able to call Bill Morrow and tell him to switch it off.
And of course,
one of the key changes we’re all hoping for by the next election is electronic
voting. It actually might have been possible this election, if only our frugal
telco operators had been prepared to fork out for the CVC.
Putting the jokes
aside, now that the new ministry has been announced, I’m looking forward to
working with you over the next three years.
I also want to
take the opportunity to congratulate all of the companies and individuals
shortlisted for tonight’s ACOMMs awards.
should be very proud of what this industry has achieved over the past year. There
are some great projects amongst the finalists for the awards, including the new award category of the ‘Internet of Things Innovator’.
I’d also like to
give a special mention to the finalists for the Community Contribution
category, one of which is the Telco Together Foundation. As I have said before, as a former social services
minister I want to applaud organisations like the Telco Together Foundation
that support people who face extra challenges for reasons often beyond their
I’lI invite the
Foundation’s Chair, Vaughan Bowen, to the stage. And while Vaughan
is coming up, it’s worth noting that the Foundation hit a major milestone this
year. After launching four years ago at the 2012 ACOMM Awards, the Telco
Together Foundation has now raised more than $1.3 million for disadvantaged
communities around Australia.This was only possible through the generous
support of the people in the industry, including the 22 member companies
supporting the Foundation's’ work.
Over the past
year, the Foundation launched an SMS Donations Pilot Program. This enables users
to donate to Australia's top charities via SMS. It's a great example of how
technology can be used to support the not-for-profit sector and raise
much-needed funds for worthy causes.
Vaughan, I’d like
to present you with this letter of endorsement recognising the Telco Together
Foundation’s work as the charitable foundation of the telecoms industry. As
Minister, I’m very pleased to see the overwhelming support that the Foundation
has received from the industry, and to see the great work the Foundation is
doing to help those in need.
to everyone involved in the Foundation’s work, and also congratulations to the
Foundation’s CEO Renee Bowker for all that you’ve achieved.
Keep that applause going!
Are you going to take your
picture with you, Mitch?
I’ll take my picture and go,
and can I say in the words of Duran Duran:
“I’m hungry like the wolf”.
Mitch, first concert you
It was Dire Straits, 1981. I was about 14 or 15; and it was at the now
demolished Regent Theatre, here in Sydney. And, the support act was called Paul
Kelly and the Dots.
We will then clap for that
concert, that’s pretty good. And now you’re the Minister for the Arts?!
I hope you do a policy in
We have a policy. It’s $2.6
billion over the next four years.
Great! Can’t wait to see it.
And also I must point out Mitch, this is very exciting. The last time I hosted
this two years ago, Malcolm Turnbull was the Minister for Communications, and
we had a photo. Hopefully someone can take one of us now in a minute, just
here. We had a photo together, gee I cherish it, and look what happened to him!
He became the bloody Prime Minister. So, play your cards right, get your photo
taken just here, like this – yeah great, he was quite happy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mitch