In considering the detail of the amendments and the bill before the House, it is important that we understand the history of the process that has led to this bill being before the House today.
I take you back to the pre-election commitments that were made by the now Prime Minister, the then member for Wentworth, when he promised that he could deliver a national broadband network that his then leader did not believe in. Let us be very clear about this. His then leader did not believe in it because his then leader was committed to a style of politics that predates colour television. We are black, you are white; you are white, we are black; and unless it can be distilled down into three-word slogans—goodies and baddies; you are for us or against us—the then Leader of the Opposition—
Mr Fletcher: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member must be relevant to an amendment before the House. He is not being relevant.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): I ask the member to be relevant.
Mr STEPHEN JONES: If members of this place are to cast a vote on the five enumerated schedules and the amendments they contain, they must understand the context of how these amendments have come before the House and how they have changed in their journey from the party room to the Senate and then to the House. I rather suspect that there are members of the National Party and regional members of the Liberal Party who do not even understand the changes that have been made to this bill from when it left their caucus room—when they all stuck their hands in the air and said to bush consumers, 'I support higher prices for people living in regional and rural Australia.' That is what they voted for in their party room.
They do not understand the changes that have been made as that bill went from the party room to the Senate and then from the Senate to this House today. It is important. We can be confident that the member for Bradfield, the shadow minister, will have no part in educating those members on his side on the bill they are voting for. So it is incumbent on members of this side of the House to provide some context and education to those poor, hapless members of the National Party and regional Liberals about the impact this bill is going to have upon their constituents.
Let us look at those issues. When the bill was before the Senate it had provisions within it which were wedded to ensuring that if you were a broadband client in regional and rural Australia, if you were one of the thousands of Australians who made a submission to the Regional Telecommunications Review and expressed your concerns about the impact of the failure of the government to deliver decent broadband services in the bush—Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the report of the Regional Telecommunications Review. It is a very good report. It highlights the importance of having ubiquitous broadband services in the bush. If you are a farm based business or a regional based small business, broadband allows you to have broadband to access the markets in the supply chains of the world. It is absolutely critical. I know this because I have businesses in my electorate today who are making decisions about whether they move out of where they are currently based to an area where they have access to broadband—because of the abject failures of this government. That is why I go to the history of this bill—because it is incumbent upon this side of the House to explain to those hapless Nationals what they have supported.
The Vertigan committee was given the herculean task of providing some credibility, some evidence, to the pre-election commitments of the government. And it was a task equivalent to the cleaning of the Aegean stables! They have attempted to provide a factual basis about how the government could, with a scrap of credibility, destroy the engineering architecture of the National Broadband Network as well as the business model which underpinned it. They have failed. That is the background to this bill.
I want to emphasise that if you are living in regional and rural Australia, if you are trying to educate your kids, if you are trying to run a small home based business or just trying to have the social interactions that many of us take for granted, access to affordable broadband is critical—and these guys are against it.