Doorstop with Dr John McVeigh MP
12 July 2017
So tell us, today the NBN's reached pretty
much the half way mark, Toowoomba’s a great success story in terms of
businesses being able to connect. What’re some of the issues for you today?
What are you talking to businesses about?
Well, it’s great to be with John McVeigh to
mark the milestone of half of the nation being serviced by the NBN. But in the
electorate of Groom, 93 per cent of premises now have the NBN available, a
further 5,000 to go, which should be done and dusted by early next year. So
it’s great that the NBN has front-end loaded regional Australia, which
historically, hasn’t had the connectivity of the metropolitan areas. This visit
is an opportunity to talk to business, to find out about their experiences of
the NBN, those things that have worked well, and also importantly, where
lessons can be learnt.
What can you tell us about the priorities for
getting the western parts of our region, and pretty much the bush connected,
what’s the rollout there?
Well, we’ve taken a deliberate decision as a
Government, that we would put the emphasis on the early part of the NBN rollout
on rural and regional Australia. So rural and regional Australia nationwide is
about two-thirds complete. The electorate of Groom is at the front of the pack.
And Toowoomba and the surrounding areas are now amongst the best-connected in
What's the Government doing over the winter
break in terms of chatting with One Nation and the Greens about coming on board
with media reform?
We have an important media reform package
before the Senate. It's a package designed to give Australian media
organisations a fighting chance. To be a shot in the arm. Australian media
platforms- print, radio, and TV are challenged by the Googles and Facebooks and
our package is intended to ensure that we continue to have good, strong,
Australian media voices. Now, it's really unfortunate that the Australian Labor
Party have absented themselves from this debate. In fact, in the House of
Representatives Labor voted against the entire package. Which is why I'm
talking to my Senate crossbench colleagues about media reform. And the
crossbench colleagues have demonstrated over the past year that they're
prepared to support good propositions that the Government puts before them. In
fact, we've got 126 pieces of legislation through the Parliament since the
election. 36 pieces of legislation in the last sitting fortnight alone. So,
I'll continue those discussions and I commend my crossbench colleagues for
being open and positive in our discussions.
So it's generally good feedback from One
Nation and the Greens?
I never seek to speak on behalf of my
crossbench colleagues, but they have been open and positive in contrast to the
Australian Labor Party.
What do you think the Government's chances are
of getting this through once we go back to Parliament?
Putting my hat on as Manager of Government
Business in the Senate, I am by nature a legislative optimist. So, I'll keep
the discussions going. I also think it's important to acknowledge the
leadership of the Australian media industry, of the chief executives of our
media companies. They've been prepared to look beyond their own legitimate
organisational interests to the broader interests of Australian media. And at
the forefront of advocating for media reform are regional TV stations, regional
TV networks, who want to have greater freedom to configure their businesses in
a way that can best support their viability. So, what I want to do is to give
regional media more options in terms of who their dance partners are and what
their businesses look like. Because we want good, strong, regional media
organisations. We want to see journalists continue to be employed. While we
mightn't always like what they write or print or post or blog or stream, what
they do is important and one of the fundamental underpinnings of our democracy.
If it doesn't get through, are you going to
shelve it or keep going?
I'm going to keep talking and keep on working
with the objective or securing the entire package.