Thursday, 25 November 2010
Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010
The National Broadband Network, as it is envisaged and being built by this government, will service the demand for bandwidth into the future. I remember reflecting some years ago on how poorly Australia was faring if you looked at, to take one measure, the OECD ratings; but perhaps a more important measure was the actual experience of citizens of this country. Some years ago I embarked upon a campaign called the pair gain victims campaign. I know Senator Joyce has a great appreciation of this campaign, because many of his constituents were so affected. The pair gain victims campaign was about recognising the physical constraints of the existing copper network. It took a long time and several inquiries, but a realisation was dawning on everybody in this place that the copper network was not going to support Australia’s bandwidth needs into the future.
Surprise, surprise, it was not long before this was confessed by Telstra themselves when they said on the public record. ‘We acknowledge that our network is at “five minutes to midnight”’. They were acknowledging that that network would not support Australia’s future needs, and yet that same telecommunications company, which had a residual monopoly in that physical terrestrial network, were not prepared to invest in the new technology that would sustain the next generation. Before embarking upon the NBN policy, we tested the market to give the market an opportunity to respond to the future needs of this country. The market was incapable of responding to the future needs of this country, and that was the precondition for developing our National Broadband Network policy.
‘Scrutiny and oversight’ were the terms used by coalition senators earlier when, clamouring for the release of the business case—which everybody knows will be released in the future—they said, ‘They ought to be subject to scrutiny and oversight.’ The fact about the scrutiny and oversight—