House debates

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009

Second Reading

11:18 am

Photo of Bernie RipollBernie Ripoll (Oxley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

The member for Maranoa will get his opportunity. I know he is pretty sensitive on these issues, because it is his constituents who are telling him that he is wrong. The reality for the member for Maranoa and others like him is that they have delivered very little to nothing for their constituents. And here we see them again. What do they actually do? I do not mean the rhetoric that we will hear, but what do they actually do? In 12 years, there was no delivery. In 12 years, there was nothing. In 12 years, all they did was just sell off Telstra. Now that there is a government with the courage to actually do something, what do the opposition do? They say their plan is to just delay it and block it. That is their plan. They do not want to see any delivery—no national broadband network rollout and no increase in competition. Their myopic view on these issues is to just continue to delay. It actually makes sense for them to delay. If you think about it, that is what they did for 12 years—they just delayed. They always put it off for another day: ‘It’ll be right; someone will fix it eventually.’

That someone is here today and is the Rudd government. It has only taken us two years, 24 months, to get to the position where we actually have legislation in the House. So here is an opportunity for the National Party and an opportunity for the Liberal Party. Here is an opportunity for the opposition to show leadership, some courage, and actually get on with the program, get on with rolling out a national broadband network to the country and get this in place. But no, their plan is quite simple and it is well documented, depending on which leader of the National Party you listen to. Clearly they are all of the view that blocking is the best policy. So I would be very interested to see how they go out to their electorates and talk to their country constituents about how they would get better services and better competition and how they would be able to get reasonable prices and access and how smaller businesses and other organisations in the telecommunications marketplace can gain fair and equitable access to market share. I would be interested to see how they work to resolve all those issues together and explain them to their constituents. I doubt that that will happen. They will just blame the government for the failings of the past when in fact they should recognise their failures over a very long period.

It is pretty easy to sum up this issue in a couple of terms. One is to ask who the winners are. Who is going to win out of this change? That is pretty easy: it is going to be the consumers. We have about 21 million people in Australia. So who wins? About 21 million people.


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