Senate debates

Monday, 3 December 2018


Telecommunications Legislation Amendment Bill 2018; In Committee

9:16 pm

Photo of Mitch FifieldMitch Fifield (Victoria, Liberal Party, Minister for Communications and the Arts) Share this | Hansard source

The reason that the bill which addresses this, which has already been introduced, has not been dealt with is because the Australian Labor Party will not treat it as a non-controversial piece of legislation. They are treating something which should be a straightforward matter in a way that is intended not to allow it to be dealt with in good time.

That is why the government is supporting this amendment, because it reflects measures that the government first proposed in the Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2018. The government supports these amendments because they will allow payments to be made to Network Investments Pty Ltd as part of the transitional support payments under the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Reform) Act 2017. The amendment is necessary, as Northern Rivers transferred its commercial television broadcasting licence and assets to Network Investments in June 2017. The government also supports the minor amendments to correct some technical issues on the pro rata tax refund for a transmitter licence under the Radiocommunications Taxes Collection Act 1983.

Of course, the Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2018 was introduced into the Senate on 19 March 2018. It was supported by those opposite in the other place. However, in this place, for tactical reasons, they do not see their way clear to supporting it as a non-contro piece of legislation. That bill includes a range of other measures that are, as I said, non-controversial and important, including allowing NBN Co to dispose of surplus assets, such as trucks and office stationery, that it's no longer using.

The bill is deregulatory in nature, and so the government is mystified as to why those opposite have sought to stymie its progress and to delay it at every opportunity, despite supporting it in the other place. This is a common Labor tactic, to say, 'Oh gee, the government has been tardy on something,' when, actually, those opposite have declined the opportunity for it to be dealt with in an expeditious way. So, whilst the government welcomes these amendments, we are disappointed that they need to be moved. It would have been simpler to consider the Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2018.

Question agreed to.


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