Senate debates

Thursday, 24 March 2011

National Broadband Network Companies Bill 2010; Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (National Broadband Network Measures — Access Arrangements) Bill 2011

In Committee

5:38 pm

Photo of Stephen ConroyStephen Conroy (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

I was unfair. It is the hokey-pokey. Look, I was unfair. I confess I was unfair to Senator Birmingham when I said he was quoting himself because, to my shock and horror, I discover in actual fact he was quoting Telstra. He was basically parroting Telstra’s line and they are saying that the bill should include a requirement that the NBN’s corporate customers must acquire the service for the purpose of on supply, not for their own consumption. So people should know exactly where the Liberal Party stand when it comes to competition in the telecommunications sector yet again: just do Telstra’s bidding. Senator Ludlam, we had hopes. There was a chance for the opposition to finally break free of their mindless anticompetitive pro-Telstra position, but again we have been disappointed.

Let me give you an alternative view from the same report that you are quoting Telstra from. The Australian Telecommunication Users Group also did not support limiting NBN Co. in this way. I quote:

… as we feel this will reduce the emergence of specialist service providers who may otherwise emerge to provide services in the mining sector, health sector, energy sector and the like.

That is what this amendment is really about: competition. You should hang your head in shame that you are in here wanting to tell corporations who pay for a legal service what they can do with it. At the end of the day that is what this is about. You want to tell them how they can use a service they buy. They can only buy a wholesale service. A company then has to decide what it wants to do with it. But, no, you on behalf of Telstra want to tell them what they can do with it. You are in here saying that they can only use it for one purpose and they cannot use it for another. Talk about anticompetitive. You have just been exposed again. I quote you again from ATUG:

We feel an amendment of the kind that you are suggesting on behalf of Telstra will reduce the emergence of specialist service providers who may otherwise emerge to provide services in the mining sector, the health sector, the energy sector and the like.

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