Senate debates

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009

Second Reading

11:40 am

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise in support of Senator Minchin’s motion. It is incredible to expect that the Senate is going to consider quite an important structural issue for Telstra without the key ingredient, the study. The study needs to be tabled for us to consider properly the implications of the legislation that Senator Conroy insists he wants to discuss. Senator Conroy has had the opportunity on a lot of earlier occasions to introduce this legislation and he has failed to do so. It is typical of the mismanagement of the agenda by the government throughout this entire term of parliament.

It would be no surprise to those listening and those who read Hansard that the mismanagement of the program has been raised by us, by the minor parties and by the Independents on numerous occasions. It highlights the inadequacy of the number of sitting weeks that this chamber has been forced to again this year, after we have indicated to the Senate on countless occasions that the government needs to set a sitting agenda well in advance. We are on the record for the past two years saying: ‘Set the calendar early. Have a sufficient number of sitting weeks, not the minimal number we have this year and also had last year.’ Last year and this year we have the lowest number of sitting weeks outside an election period since the Second World War. It is atrocious. The legislation keeps building up. Senator Conroy wants his legislation through the Senate. He wants it discussed in a timely manner, yet he cannot organise the program. He cannot convince his colleagues to have sufficient sitting weeks in the year to consider these matters.

Worst of all is that Senator Conroy will not let us see a report which millions of dollars have been spent on and which is really at the core of this issue. It is a simple request. I think when members of the public look at this they will wonder why a government has decided to introduce legislation which has a major implementation study and not to table that study. Does the government have something to hide? Has the government realised that this implementation study might not necessarily have supporting comments for the government? All we need is simply to see that implementation study. That will assist the Senate with its deliberations.

For those reasons, for the reasons articulated by Senator Minchin and for some of the reasons that Senator Ludlam and the Greens have articulated—I am surprised we do not have more concrete support for this motion—it is important that we do not consider this bill until such time as the study has been presented and tabled. It is just logical. Why have a study at all if it is not going to be used in the deliberation about the legislation? That does not make sense.


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