Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010
Consideration in Detail
It is important that the government respond to the assertions of the member for Wentworth regarding what criteria the ACCC will apply under section 577A. It is important that this nonsense put up by the member for Wentworth be put to bed. The fact is that, in accordance with standard administrative law requirements, the ACCC must have regard to the objects of the act. That is the first point to make. The second point to make is that subsection 3(i) of the Telecommunications Act makes it the main object of the act to provide a regulatory framework that promotes the long-term interests of end users and the efficiency and international competitiveness of the Australian telecommunications industry. These are entirely appropriate criteria for the ACCC to apply when considering a structural separation undertaking that will result in fundamental structural reform of the telecommunications industry. It is naturally the case that, being the competition regulator, the ACCC will also consider the competitive impacts of Telstra’s structural separation undertaking.
Let there be no doubt that what the opposition are about here is putting up straw arguments that simply do not apply to the legislation that is before this House. If these amendments are successful there will be very real implications for whether structural separation can occur. That is a fact. They know that this is the case. The member for Wentworth was given the task by the Leader of the Opposition of wrecking the National Broadband Network. In the amendments that are before the House today we can see that the member for Wentworth on this occasion is being loyal to the Leader of the Opposition, because that would be the consequence of the carriage of these amendments.
It is important that we take a step back in considering this legislation to look at what we are aiming to achieve here, which is high-speed and affordable broadband for all Australians. That will improve living standards, make us competitive and give us an edge in our region. Those opposite failed with all their approaches. They failed on the issue of structural separation. This legislation is progressing that. It is worthy of support. The sort of nonsense being put up by those opposite is simply aimed at undermining this legislation. That is why these amendments should be rejected out of hand.