Thursday, 25 November 2010
Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010
I am very glad that Senator Birmingham has come in here. Very specifically, the bill has been amended allowing Telstra to acquire specific bands of spectrum—unless the minister determines otherwise in a legislative instrument—giving Telstra the regulatory certainty they were looking for so that they could take a firm proposal to their shareholders regarding structural separation. I appreciate that Senator Birmingham has come in here to explain what the amendments mean. He is right: we do know what the amendments mean. But what I would put back to you is that we think we have fixed the problem that your amendments seek to address.
Telstra may have raced around and said, ‘We’ve got a gun to our head,’ but whether or not they did is irrelevant—the coalition have chosen to characterise this issue in that way. We feel we have addressed the problem. We understand that Telstra believe we have addressed it. So why, if everyone else is in agreement that this problem has been addressed, does the coalition persist with these amendments? Why don’t you withdraw the amendments and acknowledge that the government has fixed the problem?