House debates

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010

Consideration in Detail

4:52 pm

Photo of Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull (Wentworth, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband) Share this | Hansard source

We have a series of amendments here of which notice has been given. I will be seeking leave in a moment to move the amendments in groups. For the ease of honourable members, in the amendment they are referred to under the headings spectrum and pay TV, disallowance of instruments, competition, procedural fairness and merits review. Those are the sections that we are referring to. We can deal with all of those as a group. I seek leave to move the following amendments together. They are amendments 1 to 17, 24, 33-40, 43, 45-47 and 64-65, as have been circulated in my name.

Leave granted.

I move:

(1)    Schedule 1, before item 1, page 4 (line 5), omit the heading (Act name).

(2)    Schedule 1, item 1 to 5, page 4 (lines 6 to 24), omit the items.

(3)    Schedule 1, item 6, page 5 (lines 2 to 5), omit the item.

(4)    Schedule 1, items 11 to 15, page 5 (line 22) to page 6 (line 19), omit the items.

(5)    Schedule 1, item 17, page 6 (lines 27 and 28), omit “, 577CD or 577ED”.

(6)    Schedule 1, item 17, page 6 (lines 29 and 30), omit the note, substitute:

Note:   Section 577AD deals with an undertaking given by Telstra.

(7)    Schedule 1, item 18, page 7 (lines 1 to 6), omit the item.

(8)    Schedule 1, item 19, page 7 (lines 10 and 11), omit “, 577CD or 577ED”.

(9)    Schedule 1, item 19, page 7 (lines 12 and 13), omit the note, substitute:

Note:   Section 577AD deals with an undertaking given by Telstra.

(10)  Schedule 1, item 21, page 7 (lines 18 to 23), omit the item.

(11)  Schedule 1, item 22, page 7 (lines 27 and 28), omit “, 577CD or 577ED”.

(12)  Schedule 1, item 23, page 7 (lines 31 and 32), omit the note, substitute:

Note 1A:              Section 577AD deals with an undertaking given by Telstra.

(13)  Schedule 1, items 24 and 25, page 8 (lines 1 to 8), omit the items.

(14)  Schedule 1, item 26, page 8 (lines 12 and 13), omit “, 577CD or 577ED”.

(15)  Schedule 1, item 27, page 8 (lines 16 and 17), omit the note, substitute:

Note 1A:              Section 577AD deals with an undertaking given by Telstra.

(16)  Schedule 1, items 28 and 29, page 8 (lines 18 to 25), omit the items.

(17)  Schedule 1, item 30, page 9 (lines 5 to 24), omit the outline box, substitute:

•      Telstra may give an undertaking about structural separation.

•      The undertaking comes into force when it is accepted by the ACCC.

(24)  Schedule 1, item 30, page 14 (lines 32 and 33), omit subparagraphs (vii) and (viiii).

(33)  Schedule 1, item 30, page 35 (line 26) to page 44 (line 24), omit Division 3 and 4.

(34)  Schedule 1, item 30, page 44 (lines 29), omit “, 577C or 577E”.

(35)  Schedule 1, item 30, page 46 (line 4) to page 52 (line 2), omit Division 6.

(36)  Schedule 1, item 30, page 52 (line 7), omit paragraph (a).

(37)  Schedule 1, item 30, page 52 (line 8), omit “another”, substitute “a”.

(38)  Schedule 1, item 30, page 53 (line 20), after “control of” insert “a telecommunications network if”.

(39)  Schedule 1, item 30, page 53 (lines 21 to 22), omit paragraphs (a) and (b).

(40)  Schedule 1, item 30, page 53 (line 23), omit “if:”.

(43)  Schedule 1, item 31, page 70 (line 18) to page 75 (line 26), omit Part 10.

(45)  Schedule 1, item 36, page 76 (line 16), omit “, 577C or 577E”.

(46)  Schedule 1, item 36, page 76 (line 18), omit “Note 1”, substitute “Note”.

(47)  Schedule 1, item 36, page 76 (lines 20 to 23), omit Notes 2 and 3.

(64)  Schedule 1, item 249, page 194 (line 28), omit “, 577CD or 577ED”.

(65)  Schedule 1, item 249, page 195 (lines 1 and 2), omit subparagraph (iv).

These amendments serve to remove the ‘gun at the head’ provisions of the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010 which provide ministerial discretion to bar Telstra from bidding for next-generation 4G wireless spectrum, via a disallowable instrument. These provisions are profoundly offensive. They are designed to force a private company which was sold to the public as an integrated telecommunications company by the Commonwealth to take, under extreme pressure, certain actions to restructure its own business.

As honourable members are aware, we support the structural separation of the network business of Telstra from the retail business. That separation can obviously be achieved ideally structurally or alternatively voluntarily, but it should be done in a way where it is plainly in the interests of Telstra shareholders to do so. It should not be done at the point of a gun. These provisions threaten Telstra with being forced to divest its HFC pay-TV cable assets and/or its 50 per cent interest in Foxtel if it does not voluntarily structurally separate in a way acceptable to the government. There is nothing voluntary about it. As I said earlier, we are moving these amendments as a single group for drafting reasons largely so that the consequential changes to the bill are consistent.

The government have claimed that they would not be able to get a deal with Telstra without holding a gun to its head. The fact that they justify this extraordinary means by reference to the end of achieving a transaction that creates a massive government monopoly just shows the extent to which this is truly an abuse of the government’s power. These amendments would serve to remove those provisions that hold the gun to the head. The most significant among them are those that are at items 30, 33 and 35, which remove a number of divisions and sections from the bill. I commend them to the House.

Comments

No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.