blog As you may remember, when Malcolm Turnbull seized the Prime Ministership from Tony Abbott two weeks ago, I took the chance to publish an examination of the Member for Wentworth’s history leading the Communications Portfolio over the past five years for the Coalition. The article was notable at the time because it was one of the few articles published to really go into Turnbull’s recent policy history, as well as being one of the few to criticise the new PM for what many in Australia’s technology scene have seen as his demolition of the National Broadband Network project.
The article was one of Delimiter’s most popular articles of all time, and of course it also attracted many comments. But what you may not have known is that it was also mentioned on the floor of the House of Representatives.
On the Thursday of the week that Turnbull seized the Prime Ministership, the Opposition filed what is called a Matter of Public Importance motion in the House of Representatives. This allows the House (and the Senate has a similar mechanism) to debate a certain topic for a period of time. The topic, as filed by Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare, was “The Prime Minister’s mismanagement of the NBN”.
Various speakers from both sides of politics arose to make their case on the issue — with MPs ranging from Clare himself to Turnbull’s Parliamentary Secretary Paul Fletcher, to Shadow Minister Assisting for Communications, Ed Husic, Wyatt Roy and others. However, it was (Labor) Member for Griffith Terri Butler who referred to Delimiter’s article. Butler said at the time:
“… unfortunately, this Prime Minister, who was also the communications minister under this government, is completely unable to deliver the NBN that this country needs. His incompetence in the portfolio has been remarked upon widely within the sector and within the community.
In fact, in his article entitled ‘Malcolm Turnbull was Australia’s worst ever Communications Minister’, published on Monday of this week, Renai LeMay of media outlet Delimiter said … ‘He might be charismatic, he might be popular, and pretty shortly he might be Prime Minister.’ That turned out to be right. This was Monday. ‘But when it comes to technology policy, Malcolm Turnbull has been a disaster. The Member for Wentworth will be
remembered as Australia’s worst ever Communications Minister’ … and isn’t that true? He was a hopeless communications minister.”
Butler is only new to Federal Parliament — she replaced Kevin Rudd, who resigned after losing the 2013 Federal Election to Tony Abbott — but the MP is already making waves in Australia’s technology community. Butler is one of the three founders of the cross-party Parliamentary Friends of the Internet group and quite engaged with the technology sector in general.
You can find the full Hansard transcript of the debate online here in PDF format (debate starts on page 65 of the document), and a full copy of the debate is also available here on the Parliament’s ParlView system (starting at 15:14:09) if you want to watch the whole thing. There’s a lot of waffle in there, but you also get a good idea of where each individual MP who participated stands on the issue of the NBN.
Video credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting