Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Questions without Notice
I thank Senator Parry for the question and for his ongoing interest in the availability of first-class communications services to all Australians, regardless of where they live. Our investment in telecommunications services has delivered Australians a world-class mobile phone service and fast internet connections and has ensured basic services, such as home phones and payphones, are available to individuals and communities. Our strong consumer safeguards ensure Australians enjoy untimed local calls and can get their phones connected and repaired straightaway. And by encouraging competition and responsible regulation, we have ensured that prices for telecommunications services have been slashed by more than 25 per cent since 1996.
I am asked about alternative policies. Yesterday, I outlined to the Senate Labor’s irresponsible and secret plans to scrap regulation of the telecommunications industry to meet the demands of the Communication Workers Union and the Community and Public Sector Union. Yesterday, I outlined to the Senate Labor’s recklessness in abolishing the safeguards that have delivered choice and better services to Australian consumers.
Today I am fascinated to learn, through the Financial Review, of another secret plan by Labor, this time to force Telstra to provide broadband services through the universal service obligation. This, of course, is the same universal service obligation which Labor would have both Telstra and the unions believe that they are going to abolish. Both positions cannot be right, so perhaps a little later in question time Senator Conroy might tell us which one it is. Or is Labor once more trying to have it both ways, promising the unions and Telstra one thing while promising consumers something altogether different?