Thursday, 25 November 2010
Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010
I cannot let Senator Ronaldson’s making of such a pompous statement go past when we have spent about six hours fighting to get even to this debate and then having to endure not only so many contributions through the course of the afternoon that are informed by a complete misunderstanding of the topic at hand but also speaker after speaker, on behalf of the coalition, coming in here to fill up time. I am completely empathetic with my colleague Senator Cameron to feel the need to come and throw back some of the ridiculous rhetoric that has been served up to the government from across the chamber.
It is clear the opposition are taking this as a game. It is clear they are trying to prevent the consideration of this bill. We saw some 2½ hours of specific motion moving this morning to delay this debate to even begin on the procedures. We find ourselves now with this mock outrage. They are so bored in their tactics that they think, ‘Oh well, we’ll just come in and put our amendment for once.’ It is quite absurd. It brings this whole chamber down. Unfortunately, that reflects on all of us, not just the shameless members of the opposition.
Given we have had such a lack of clarity on the opposition amendments, I think it is entirely appropriate to ask Senator Ronaldson to reiterate the detail of why they believe these amendments are necessary. We are actually discussing opposition amendments. I know that has not been obvious because we have not had any contention put forward by the opposition as to why their amendments should be supported, so I will assist the opposition. They have moved their amendments (1) to (17), (24), (33) to (40), (43), (45) to (57), (64) and (65) related to spectrum, undertakings about hybrid fibre coaxial networks and subscription television broadcasting licences. They have not been able to present arguments as to why they support these amendments. I have, nonetheless, responded in detail to why these amendments are no longer necessary, but we have heard no arguments as to why they are. We have also had the opportunity, through the course of the debate on these amendments, to respond in detail to questions about how the reforms promote competition and why it is necessary, in the provision of proposed section 577A, for the ACCC to scrutinise and approve the competitive impacts of the deal between NBN Co. and Telstra as it relates to structural separation undertakings and the migration to new networks. But we get nothing from the opposition. Who is your spokesperson for telecommunications in the Senate, anyway? Is that you, Senator Ronaldson?