Federal Member For Banks
Shadow Minister for Communications

Shadow Minister for Communications, Transcript – 2GB Overnights with Luke Grant – Mobile Black Spots Program; Labor’s Broken Promises

Subject: Mobile Black Spots Program; Labor’s Broken Promises


Luke Grant: I want to have a chat here to David Coleman. He’s a Federal Member for Banks and the Shadow Minister for Communications, who joins me on the line, G’day David, good to chat.

David Coleman: G’day Luke, good to be with you.

Luke Grant: This is extraordinary. I can’t believe there’s not more noise about this. What are you intending to do? Will there be some kind of investigation there has to be one surely?

David Coleman: Well, absolutely. I mean, this is an absolute shocker. Labor has been caught red handed. 40 out of 54 locations the Minister has handpicked locations that are in Labor electorates. That’s 74% of all the locations, even though Labor’s only 33% of the regional seats. So, what we want to see is a full Senate Inquiry into this. We want to go through all of the information, the emails, the text messages, the notes from meetings and so on, because this is dodgy, and we need to get to the bottom of what’s gone on here, because this is completely unacceptable.

Luke Grant: Has there been anything put before you to suggest that there was a formula or that there was some kind of independent process? Or are you convinced that this has got the Minister’s hands all over it?

David Coleman: There’s no question, it’s got the Ministers hands all over it. The Minister has been very careful not to say that there’s been some sort of official Government process on this. What she’s basically saying is, this is a whole bunch of Labor candidates and Labor members and so on, who put forward these locations and she’s basically gone, yep, but too bad if you live in the bulk of regional Australia, which is actually not held by a Labor party, because then you’ve almost certainly have missed out. So, it’s open and shut, there’s no way you can say 40 out of 54 of the places in Australia that most need mobile reception all happen magically to be in Labor seats. No one believes that for a minute. So, this Senate Inquiry we’re working with the other Senate crossbenches to seek to get this up and running, but these will then have the power to get all the information. What has gone here? What has the Minister said to the department? I’d be very surprised Luke if the department hadn’t told the Minister, hang on a minute. There’s a whole lot of other places in Australia that really need this mobile funding. I’d be very surprised if they weren’t, submissions and documents saying that, but that’s the sort of information we could get through a Senate Inquiry. I think basically, what’s happened here is the Minister has written down a bunch of locations on a piece of paper, handed it over and said, we’re doing this and that’s not on.

Luke Grant: It’s not on, as I said before, they made a real thing about what they thought was rorting by the former Government, your side of politics. So, let me ask you about those crossbenches, who would be key in order that you get the numbers. Many of them came to the people and said, you know, we’re all about integrity. We’re all about making sure there’s a Federal ICAC and calling this stuff out and stopping the rorts and blah, blah, blah. Are they all on board?

David Coleman: Well, we’ll see. We’ve just called an inquiry in the last day or so. So, there’s still more discussions going on, but they certainly should be. I mean, when you think about it, what’s the argument for not having an inquiry into this? There’s no good argument. The only argument is, well, I’m from the Labor Party, and I don’t want you to do it. Look, I’m confident that the Senate crossbenches will support this inquiry. I think it’s very important that they do, as you say they’ve certainly had comments about other grants programs in the past and they’ve been very focused on grants programs and so on. This is a grants program that has been politically structured, politically biased and politically motivated. And it’s obvious as the nose on your face. So, I would certainly hope and expect that they will all get behind it.

Luke Grant: What’s going on here. They said they would, obviously there’s a party of Medicare that wouldn’t cut it, but they cut those extra mental health places which people I’ve spoken to say were so important. They said they wouldn’t touch super; they’ve mucked around with super. I mean, they seemingly they just get a leave pass with all of this and now this alleged rorting. What’s going on in the coverage of politics, goodness me, a year or two back, you can imagine if it was done by the former Government, there would be screaming from every corner of every roof around the country, yet this seemingly is waived through. What’s going on?

David Coleman: Well, there’s a lot of things to cover here, Luke, as you say, I mean, I had responsibility for mental health before the election when we’re in Government and that cut to mental health is absolutely the wrong thing to do and will hurt a lot of people in the community. You have got Anthony Albanese, saying before the election, we’re going to cut your electricity bills by $275. How many times has he talked about that since the election? Zero. Before the election, we’re going to make your mortgages cheaper. Now we’ve had nine interest rate rises since the election. And I think the Prime Minister thinks he can just sort of sail through and will not be scrutinized, but that’s not going to happen because there are so many problems with this Government. There are so many things that they’ve done that they said they wouldn’t do. They said they wouldn’t touch Super. And as you know, people make long range plans for Super over years and decades, and then just to turn around on a dime and say, oh when we said there wasn’t going to be a change, what we really meant was we there’s going to be a major change. And by the way, here’s a major change anyway, I mean, that’s basically what they’ve done. So, lots of issues with this Government Luke.

Luke Grant: They would say, you know, you’re defending, I heard them say today, the Treasurer is saying, you know, you’re standing up for the people with 10’s of millions of dollars in their super fund, which is a very small number. But what I don’t like is, you know, why we always got to go after people that do well, surely the country does well, if we encourage people to do well if you end up with money in your Super, I assume it’s because you’ve worked hard. And you know, you’re able to put away a bit of a nest egg but there’s a common theme here. It’s almost like the old Labor thing of Thou shalt not succeed if you do, we’re going to come after you.

David Coleman: Well Labor thinks that your money is their money. And the super system, it’s not the Labor Government’s money, it’s the money of the people who have saved for it and people make a lot of sacrifices and, and work really hard and you get Jim Chalmers out there making these speeches about how he wants your super to be invested in various projects and so on. Well, that’s all well and good. But as long as those projects work for the individuals who actually have the money in the Super. It’s their decision, it’s not Jim Chalmers decision what should happen to their Super, and it’s completely wrong for the Government after saying there would be no changes to super to then go and make changes to Super. I mean, it’s a complete backflip, and it’s a betrayal of what they said before the election.

Luke Grant: Yeah, I agree. When do we know more about this proposed inquiry? Is that something that will get legs pretty quickly? What do you think?

David Coleman: Yeah, well, we’re having discussions this week in Canberra and I think we’ll have some more news on it pretty soon and it’s very important that it happens because like I said, people want to know they want to get to the bottom of this and the Minister needs to be held to account. The explanations she’s offered so far have made no sense at all, unless you’re looking at it from the political perspective of the Labor Party and that’s not what her job is. Her job is not to be the Minister for Communications for Labor electorates. Her job is to be the Minister for Communications for Australia. That’s what we’re going to be seeking to ensure that she does.

Luke Grant: Good on you. We’ll talk again. David Coleman, Shadow Minister for Communications. Thank you so much for your time.

David Coleman: Thanks, Luke. Great to talk to you.

The Hon. David Coleman MP
Shadow Minister for Communications
Federal Member for Banks