Thursday, 25 November 2010
Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010
Senator Ronaldson calls me a scallywag, so I will take that—I have been called worse. Senator Ronaldson, I think your game-playing in this chamber is reaching new heights. There are certain courtesies and protocols that need to be acknowledged but that you have breached, and I—like Senator Xenophon—am not confirming anything, despite your allegations. The issue at hand, I reiterate, is that I have asked the opposition why they are persisting with a series of amendments that have been comprehensively responded to and are no longer necessary. We are yet to get a decent answer from the coalition about their putting forward of these amendments. I suspect that they do not have anyone in the chamber capable of explaining why their amendments are so important, now that they have an answer from the government as to why they are no longer necessary.
It is important to understand that the coalition have spent 5½ hours getting to this debate, and they have now thrown their hands up in glee and delight, saying, ‘We must put this amendment.’ We have a right as a government to make clear our position, and there are only so many untruths and misrepresentations that can be put forward by coalition senators about the National Broadband Network. I am sure my colleagues understand why I feel compelled to talk about why the NBN is so important to Australia.
We are dealing with the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010. This bill sets a regulatory framework that is an important precondition for the NBN Co. and Telstra arrangement because it addresses structural separation and the issues surrounding the new structure of the industry that will exist when the NBN is built. For some unfathomable reason, the opposition have decided to oppose this bill. We are now in the midst of a series of detailed amendments in the committee stage, yet the opposition cannot answer the question of why they are persisting with amendments that seek to address problems that do not exist.