Doorstop – New Norfolk, Tasmania – Tuesday, 7 April 2015






SUBJECT/S: NBN; Legislative Council election; ASADA; Matthew Gardiner.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: It’s great to be here in New Norfolk with Martyn, Brian and Carol. I’m here in Tasmania to get an update on the rollout of the NBN. A couple of things that come to mind immediately. First, the rollout of the NBN in Tasmania seems still to be too slow. There’s only been about 15,000 homes that have got the NBN in the last 18 months. That’s about 200 per week so the rollout is still going too slowly. Secondly, it looks like about half of Tasmania is going to end up with the slower, second rate, copper NBN instead of the first class, first rate, Fibre NBN. 

Before the election the Government promised that they would honour existing commitments and contracts and the people of Tasmania expected that meant they would get the real NBN, fibre to their home. Instead it now looks like about half of Tasmania will get fibre to the home and about half of Tasmania will get the second rate old copper version of the NBN so that’s a disappointment and a good example of that is New Norfolk. 

Here in New Norfolk there was an expectation that local residents would get the real NBN, fibre to their home. Under Labor, construction would have begun in October 2013, so we would have seen construction underway and almost finished now. Instead, we now know because the 18 month rollout plan was released last week that this region is going to get the second rate copper version so that’s a big disappointment. 

I might hand over to the Mayor to say  a few words and then happy to take some questions. 

MARTYN EVANS, MAYOR OF DERWENT VALLEY: Thank you Jason and thank you for your time today. It is right, the Derwent Valley, New Norfolk and the Central Highlands looks like being the very poor cousin. Late 2016 is the rollout and it is the copper. We’re talking about education and provisions for education and health in regional communities and I think it’s an opportunity lost by the government in our area here and servicing our people in this region.

JOURNALIST: So, what had you understood was the situation in the last government and when did that change?

EVANS: Look, its been a rolling feast over the last 12-18 months. It was around 80 per cent fibre and 20 per cent digital in the first outlay…in the Derwent Valley and it changed over the last 12-18 months and it keeps on being a rolling feast on what’s happening so we want some clarity around it. At the moment, it says its going to be copper which is a second rate system for us.

JOURNALIST: What are the problems in New Norfolk around the copper technology?

EVANS: It has about the same capacity as the service we currently run now so there’s no greater speed. Our concerns are that you look at the health and the way we can deliver health with IT initiatives into regional areas and remote areas. We are not going to have the capacity to do that so our people miss out on the benefits of greater health provisions, greater education provisions into those areas, into rural areas.

JOURNALIST: So what you would like is everybody in the Derwent Valley to get Fibre to the Premises?

EVANS: Look, I would love that opportunity for the people of our valley to be given the opportunity. You know, it’d be nice to be given. We seem to be the poorer cousins in the regional areas. We seem to miss out all of the time.

JOURNALIST: Do you know how much that would cost?

EVANS: Don’t have a costing on that at the moment but look people’s health, people’s education, people’s wellbeing and being on a level playing field with other areas is what we want in the Derwent Valley and for our people.

JOURNALIST: What’s the feedback you are getting from the community? Are people disappointed? Are they unhappy with their copper connection? Does it drop out and that type of thing?

EVANS: People have been told about NBN for the last three and a half, four years and since that time, the Derwent Valley has not been on the map or said things were going to happen and things just haven’t happened. I just want the best outcomes for the people in our community and our region.

JOURNALIST: Has the Council written to Malcolm Turnbull’s office about that?

EVANS: No, that’s a proposal we are going to talk about at our workshop. We have a weekly workshop with our councillors and talk about what issues are raised through the community and it was only touched on just before Easter that, when the proposal came out, what our next port of call will be.

JOURNALIST: What about Eric Hutchison? Have you spoken to him about it?

EVANS: No, I haven’t spoken to Eric Hutchison since Easter and he will be the next port of call as well. 

JOURNALIST: You’ve just said that the Derwent Valley is the second cousin that doesn’t get the premium service, why do you think that is?

EVANS: I don’t know, it’s been a long time. We here are a growing community in the Derwent Valley, a very proud, passionate area. We’re very self sufficient but when it comes to infrastructure needs for the community, we expect them to be on a level playing field. We have been left behind. You have a look, 2016, the latter end. Is it going to be 2016? Is it going to be 2017? And with Copper, it’s a second rate service so look, I’m here today for our residents. There’s over 10,000 people in our municipality, our bordering municipality in the Central Highlands, there’s another 4,000 people so that’s a lot of people in a small regional area that need the service.

JOURNALIST:  Can I just ask, on another matter, are you disappointed there is no competition in the Legislative Council seat of Derwent?

EVANS: Competition is always good, it’s just a different subject, sorry about that –

BRIAN MITCHELL, ALP CANDIDATE FOR LYONS:  Craig is doing a magnificent job –

JOURNALIST: As the Mayor, would you have liked to have seen someone take on Mr. Farrell?

EVANS: I always think competition is healthy, Craig is always out there, he is at all of our community events, he’s out there for the people and look, I would love to see competition because it is always healthy for a seat but if there is no competition…have the polls closed? Has the nomination period closed yet? I’m not aware of that, I think it is a little bit longer so there may be but if Craig keeps up the good work, I am happy.

JOURNALIST: Did you think about having a tilt yourself?

EVANS: No, definitely not, the upper house is not for me, it would be quite different, I actually talked about removing the upper house two years ago so for me to run for the upper house, it wouldn’t be right.

JOURNALIST: Just on removing the upper house, John Dowling has put in a submission to a review of the electoral system suggesting that it might be time to have a look at unicameralism, do you think that’s a call from Labor you’d be happy to support?

EVANS: Look, personally, I won’t talk on a council point of view because we have no decision around that but obviously with my thoughts before about removing the upper house, I think there are options and there are ways forward for the State to save money and represent people in a better way. 

JOURNALIST: Just back to the contest in Derwent, would you hope that someone else came forward? Labor might think that Craig Farrell has been good but he has been there for six years, would you like to see someone come forward?

EVANS: Look, it’s open to everybody. Nominations are out there and I think that if people are seeing people are doing a really good job, like I said before, competition is healthy. I am more than happy to work with our member in Derwent, whoever he or she may be, for the best outcomes for our people, and Craig at the moment is doing well in that role so if there is another one, our council would love to speak to them as well. 

JOURNALIST: Would you like to see a Liberal candidate? 

EVANS: Look, any candidate would be an interesting candidate, I would like to see their views and what benefits they could deliver for the Derwent Valley.

JOURNALIST: We’ve just got a question from Parliament House, do you have any regrets about the ‘darkest day in Australian sport’ press conference? How that was handled.

CLARE: Well, remember what happened. The Australian Crime Commission conducted a 12 month investigation into organised crime and it’s links to sport. They identified those links, they put it in a report and they gave that report to me and asked me to release that report and that’s what I did. I stand by what I said at that press conference. It was based on all of the information in that report. 

In hindsight, would I have done things differently? Yes, but let’s be very clear about this, whether there was a press conference or not, the report still would have been released, it still would have been controversial and there still would have been the investigations that ASADA has done in the aftermath of that. I think in understanding the importance of this issue, it’s important to understand that report was produced after 12 months of investigation by the Australian Crime Commission who found something that they thought was very wrong and wanted to shine a light on it. 

JOURNALIST: What would you do differently? 

CLARE:  Well, there’s a couple of ways you could have done things differently. The Crime Commission could have released the report themselves, it could have been done on a different day, in a different way. The point I’m making is this, whether there was a press conference or not, there was still going to be a very controversial report released which was always going to concern the Australian people and there was always going to be an investigation that occurred after that and that is what has happened.

JOURNALIST: Do you think though that the last Labor government overhyped the ASADA report?

CLARE:  Everything I said in that press conference is based on information in that report and the fact that ASADA said last week that they’ve issued 118 show-cause notices to players in 16 different sports in the last 12 months shows us that we’ve still got a serious issue that we need to address and there’s no point in trying to hide this in the corner. We’ve got to shine a light on it and we’ve got to do something about it because no-one wants sport being played by people who’ve got an unfair advantage.

JOURNALIST: When you say though in hindsight that you would have done some things differently, can you talk us through what that might have been?

CLARE: I just point you to the answer I just gave.

JOURNALIST: So, you’ve said obviously that you’d do something differently, will you be apologising?

CLARE: I’ve said before that I feel very sorry for the players that have been affected by this, players who were injected with things and they didn’t know what they were being injected with and the people who injected those players are the people that are responsible for that bad behaviour and I think that’s where the focus definitely needs to be. As a government, as government agencies, as politicians, we all need to work together to try to make sure that we eradicate this from our sports.

JOURNALIST: What do you think should happen to the former NT ALP President Matthew Gardiner whose returned from fighting with the Kurds against ISIS?

CLARE: I don’t have any official advice from law enforcement agencies on that, obviously we are in Opposition, I understand that he has met with AFP officers on his return to Australia and I will await advice from the Government about what steps will be taken in that regard.

JOURNALIST: So you don’t have any view at this point?

CLARE: Well I don’t have any of the details upon which to give you a considered opinion. Thanks very much.