Mr BUCHHOLZ (2.29 pm)—My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her statement during the election campaign that she opposed increases in the age pension in Cabinet because, and I quote: ‘We are talking about expenditure of more than $50 billion over the next 10 years. That’s a lot of money.’ Why is the Prime Minister rushing to spend $43 billion on an NBN without releasing its business plan when she was more than happy last year to veto a similar amount for struggling pensioners? Isn’t the Prime Minister’s double standard proof that this government has lost its way?
Ms GILLARD—I thank the member for his question and, first and foremost, the assertions in it are wholly untrue; second, this is the government that delivered a historic increase in pensions to Australian pensioners, and we are proud we did. The member who asked the question might want to reflect on why he is a supporter of a political party that was in office for almost 12 years and never delivered a pension increase of that magnitude. We will be very, very happy to receive his congratulations for having provided that increase to pensioners. We thought it was the right thing to do, and we did it.
On the National Broadband Network, we also believe this is the right thing to do. Yes, we are being careful and methodical and diligent and prudent every step of the way as befits a government that is governing in the national interest. That is why the National Broadband Network has been the subject of reports and studies commissioned by the government and is also the subject of investigations by various parliamentary committees at various stages, including particularly in the Senate. So I would say to the member opposite that at some point he needs to think for himself and work this out: is he going to follow the Leader of the Opposition down a path of political destruction and demolish the NBN, or is he going to come into this parliament and stand up for his constituents, stand up for their ability to have superfast broadband, stand up for their ability to be participants in an economy that will have the additional productivity and prosperity that broadband will bring and stand up for their ability to get the healthcare and education services of the future because of the existence of the National Broadband Network? I understand he is a new member and obviously would still be thinking about these questions, but I am confident that, if he thinks about them seriously, he will come to one conclusion, which is that he should support the National Broadband Network.