Senate debates

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010

In Committee

5:03 pm

Photo of Russell TroodRussell Trood (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

and particularly you, Senator Lundy. You should pay close attention to its contents, because it actually provides a great deal of insight into the failures of this government and the consequences they are having for competition and productivity—most particularly productivity—in this country. In this article, Mr Stutchbury—eloquently, I thought—made this point:

Virtually none of the acceleration in real national income growth in the 2000s has come from productivity growth, which has slumped to the weakest on record.

He is making the point that we need to do more to improve productivity. And this is not just Mr Stutchbury’s view; he looks to a report by the OECD.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is a highly respected organisation. We all know that there have been frequent occasions when ministers of this government have come into this chamber and cited the OECD as an authority for the decisions which have been made—as a foundation, one of wisdom and insight, for the policy changes which they have introduced. So this is an organisation with street cred on not only this side but also that side of the chamber. In the article, Mr Stutchbury says:

… the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says Labor must put the brakes on the NBN so it can rethink a business model that would stifle competition by imposing a government-owned fibre optic monopoly.

And the Productivity Commission has made an similar point. But, in the way in which it has introduced this legislation to the Senate and progressed the matter ever since it conceived this crazy idea, the government has sought to avoid the Productivity Commission scrutinising the legislation in ways which would be entirely appropriate.

Mr Stutchbury—eloquently, as I have said—goes on to make the point that:

… Labor’s NBN wholesale monopoly model legally kills off competition from Telstra’s existing copper network and its pay-TV cable while further limiting mobile cherry-picking.

He then cites the OECD. He says:

The OECD points to “multiple empirical studies” …

So this is not just something that has been thrown out as a wild possibility—something that is not necessarily relevant. He says that the OECD’s empirical studies:

… stress the pay-off from “competition between technological platforms”.

Here is an internationally respected organisation making a compelling case for the fact that, at the very heart of the productivity gains that we should be looking for in this country in the 21st century—particularly in the context of the introduction of new technologies—and at the very heart of the changes we make, we ought to have competition. And this bill absolutely denies that possibility; it denies us the chance to have that.

I think I heard earlier in the day my colleague Senator Ronaldson allude to—entirely appropriately, I thought—an article by Terry McCrann which appeared in the Courier-Mail this morning. Mr McCrann made a similar point about the costs and the failure to introduce competition into the network.


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