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

We are getting close to 22 million, yes. If we hit that, it is even better. It strengthens my argument, so I thank the member for that. There will be even more winners. I acknowledge the member for Maranoa for agreeing that there will be more winners. There will be 22 million winners instead of 21 million. It is a great outcome.

Who else wins in this rollout of a national broadband network? Competition wins. When competition wins, people win. Who else wins? The marketplace wins. There will be more access and better opportunity for a whole range of people in the market. Who else wins? Innovation wins—innovation technology. With more players, more access and a better ability for people to share information, innovation becomes centre stage more and more in what can be delivered. Of course, the greatest winners of all are the Australian economy and the taxpayer. Taxpayers will finally be able to have a system that will deliver for them and a system that will deliver for the economy. In all of these debates it does not matter how real the facts are. We see it in a whole range of areas, particularly when we talk about climate change, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme or the emissions trading scheme.

There will always be the sceptics, the naysayers or those who simply want to oppose things because they are in opposition. It is not much different in this debate over telecommunications. You have the sceptics and you have those who say, ‘It’s just not good enough.’ Of course, for those who say that, nothing ever is. When they are there they do not do anything, but as soon as somebody else steps up to the plate it is never good enough. There are the naysayers who will say no to absolutely everything. If it is not their idea, then it is not a good idea. We see those in the National Party as well as in the Liberal Party. Then there are those who are just missing in action. Who are the greatest ones for being missing in action? Those in the National Party. Who stands up for the people the National Party are supposed to represent—farmers, rural folk, bush folk, people out in the country who we all acknowledge do it tough and do not have the sort of service delivery that they should have? No-one in the party room in Canberra does. In the opposition party room, or what was then the Howard government party room, who stood up for the bush? The National Party members are pretty tough in here, but they were never tough in the party room, and they are certainly not tough when they go out into their electorates. We have plenty of evidence of that, so there is no need to debate that.

Who should be supporting this sort of legislation? That is pretty easy. I have mentioned this before. I think it is all those consumers who have a lot to gain out of this rollout—and they are supporting it. As I said, there are just a couple of barriers preventing really good reforms in competition, to opening up the telecommunications market and in having Telstra either functionally or structurally separate, and that barrier is the Liberal and National parties in Canberra. They are too focused on the past. They are more focused on their own image than on actually delivering. Perhaps they are just a little bit ashamed when they think back to their legacy, when they think back to what opportunities were missed and when they think back to all the things they could have done and what they did not do. There is probably some regret now. You can sense it in their tone of voice when they say, ‘We had contracts in place—

An incident having occurred in the gallery—

I see people in the gallery agree with me!


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