Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010
Consideration in Detail
I will not be supporting the amendments. I believe that today will be a fairly significant day in our history, with the structural separation arrangements being put in place and the movement towards the National Broadband Network. I think it is high time that we move forward, into the future, rather than perpetuate the problem that we have had for over a decade now: the interminable argument about where our telecommunications system is going in a nation of this size and magnitude. I am very pleased to see what is happening. Obviously, in relation to the structural separation issues, we are repairing something that should have been repaired a long time ago.
I would also pay a compliment to the member for Wentworth, not only in relation to this part of the bill but in terms of his shadow ministry. Even though I am not likely to agree with him about the broadband arrangements that he is proposing, he has displayed enormous tenacity in putting forward his arguments. I have been known to say to him that he has become a stalker on this particular issue, but I compliment him for his tenacity in engaging in what he obviously believes is a position that he needs to uphold. Unfortunately, on the broader issue of the broadband arrangements, the Leader of the Opposition has taken a position of denial, in a sense. He believes that the National Broadband Network is a dog and should not be supported. I do not agree with that view at all. I would like to place on the record, because I was unable to speak earlier in the debate, that I believe that the fibre technology we are talking about is quite possibly the greatest piece of infrastructure for country Australians that I will have seen as a member of parliament.
We should not be finding objections via the Productivity Commission and other arrangements. We would really have difficulty valuing future uses of this technology and making a realistic economic assessment, anyway. Rather than going down that track and maintaining opposition to change, I think it is time we actually embraced the future. The future is fibre, will be fibre and should be fibre, and country Australians should, in the main, be allowed to share in that technology. I support the government in relation to structural separation. I understand the reasons it is being done. I understand the relationship between Telstra, the National Broadband Network and the government, and I will be supporting the government’s view on this and hence will not be supporting the opposition’s amendments.