Senate debates

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010

In Committee

8:53 pm

Photo of Scott LudlamScott Ludlam (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I will just provide the coalition with an indication that the Greens will not be supporting this batch of amendments, although we gave it very careful consideration. As Senator Birmingham has already outlined, the amendments that the Greens have put forward in this regard and the amendments that the coalition has put forward come at the problem with the same intent but probably with a difference in emphasis. So we have stopped short of creating any new disallowable instruments at key junctures in the bill, effectively because we are very aware that this is the kind of industry and certainly the kind of process where these instruments would be open to abuse. Regrettably, the opposition’s form on procedural motions and procedural tactics on this issue left us with serious doubt as to whether these instruments would be used in good faith. As a general rule, senators in here well know that the Australian Greens are in favour of more parliamentary involvement rather than less. This is probably the first time I will have voted against the proposal to insert a disallowable instrument to an important piece of legislation. But in the present case more parliamentary engagement means greater scope for the opposition to exercise its professed policy of demolishing the NBN, with little thought for the specific merit of each particular initiative that it seeks to obstruct.

Under these circumstances, I think the amendments that Senator Xenophon is moving, that we are moving and that the coalition has supported to create public greater scrutiny, greater consultation and more windows of transparency into the process are a better compromise than opening up the door to parliamentary levers that would be very open to abuse. Unfortunately, the history of the passage of this particular legislation shows that these fears are probably well founded. So while we support the intent, we do not support the methods that the coalition is putting forward.


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