TELECOMMUNICATIONS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (COMPETITION AND CONSUMER SAFEGUARDS) BILL 2010 - In Committee


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (4:29 PM) by leaveI move opposition amendments (1) to (17), (24), (33) to (40), (43), (45) to (57), (64) and (65) together:

(1) Schedule 1, before item 1, page 4 (line 5), omit the heading (Act name).

(2) Schedule 1, items 1 to 5, page 4 (lines 6 to 24), items TO BE OPPOSED.

(3) Schedule 1, item 6, page 5 (lines 2 to 5), item TO BE OPPOSED.

(4) Schedule 1, items 11 to 15, page 5 (line 22) to page 6 (line 19), items TO BE OPPOSED.

(5) Schedule 1, item 17, page 6 (lines 27 and 28), omit , 577CD or 577ED.

(6) Schedule 1, item 17, page 6 (lines 29 and 30), omit the note, substitute:

Note: Section 577AD deals with an undertaking given by Telstra.

(7) Schedule 1, item 18, page 7 (lines 1 to 6), item TO BE OPPOSED.

(8) Schedule 1, item 19, page 7 (lines 10 and 11), omit , 577CD or 577ED.

(9) Schedule 1, item 19, page 7 (lines 12 and 13), omit the note, substitute:

Note: Section 577AD deals with an undertaking given by Telstra.

(10) Schedule 1, item 21, page 7 (lines 18 to 23), item TO BE OPPOSED.

(11) Schedule 1, item 22, page 7 (lines 27 and 28), omit , 577CD or 577ED.

(12) Schedule 1, item 23, page 7 (lines 31 and 32), omit the note, substitute:

Note 1A: Section 577AD deals with an undertaking given by Telstra.

(13) Schedule 1, items 24 and 25, page 8 (lines 1 to 8), items TO BE OPPOSED.

(14) Schedule 1, item 26, page 8 (lines 12 and 13), omit , 577CD or 577ED.

(15) Schedule 1, item 27, page 8 (lines 16 and 17), omit the note, substitute:

Note 1A: Section 577AD deals with an undertaking given by Telstra.

(16) Schedule 1, items 28 and 29, page 8 (lines 18 to 25), items TO BE OPPOSED.

(17) Schedule 1, item 30, page 9 (lines 5 to 24), omit section 577, substitute:

577 Simplified outline

The following is a simplified outline of this Part:

- Telstra may give an undertaking about structural separation.

- The undertaking comes into force when it is accepted by the ACCC.

(24) Schedule 1, item 30, page 14 (lines 32 and 33), omit subparagraphs 577AA(1)(c)(vii) and (viii).

(33) Schedule 1, item 30, page 35 (line 26) to page 44 (line 24), Divisions 3 and 4 TO BE OPPOSED.

(34) Schedule 1, item 30, page 44 (line 29), omit , 577C or 577E.

(35) Schedule 1, item 30, page 46 (line 4) to page 52 (line 2), Division 6 TO BE OPPOSED.

(36) Schedule 1, item 30, page 52 (line 7), omit paragraph 577M(1)(a).

(37) Schedule 1, item 30, page 52 (line 8), omit another, substitute a.

(38) Schedule 1, item 30, page 53 (line 20), after control of, insert a telecommunications network if.

(39) Schedule 1, item 30, page 53 (lines 21 and 22), omit paragraphs 577Q(1)(a) and (b).

(40) Schedule 1, item 30, page 53 (line 23), omit if:.

(43) Schedule 1, item 31, page 70 (line 18) to page 75 (line 28), Part 10 TO BE OPPOSED.

(45) Schedule 1, item 36, page 76 (line 16), omit , 577C or 577E.

(46) Schedule 1, item 36, page 76 (line 18), omit Note 1, substitute Note.

(47) Schedule 1, item 36, page 76 (lines 20 to 23), omit notes 2 and 3.

(48) Schedule 1, item 38, page 77 (line 7), omit , 577C or 577E.

(49) Schedule 1, item 39, page 77 (line 17), omit , 577C or 577E.

(50) Schedule 1, item 39, page 77 (line 19), omit Note 1, substitute Note.

(51) Schedule 1, item 39, page 77 (lines 21 to 24), omit notes 2 and 3.

(52) Schedule 1, item 74, page 87 (line 26), omit , 577C or 577E.

(53) Schedule 1, item 93, page 94 (line 7), omit , 577C or 577E.

(54) Schedule 1, item 96, page 95 (line 12), omit , 577C or 577E.

(55) Schedule 1, item 102, page 96 (line 13), omit , 577C or 577E.

(56) Schedule 1, item 107, page 97 (line 28), omit , 577C or 577E.

(57) Schedule 1, item 113, page 100 (line 18), omit , 577C or 577E.

(64) Schedule 1, item 249, page 194 (line 28), omit , 577CD or 577ED.

(65) Schedule 1, item 249, page 195 (lines 1 and 2), omit subparagraph 572E(4)(b)(iv) .

The coalition has always been very keen to progress debate on this bill and to establish some principles and conditions that can improve what we think is generally a very bad bill that holds a gun to the head of Telstra Corporation.

These amendments remove those gun-at-the-head provisions which the bill contains. The bill gives ministerial discretion to bar Telstra from bidding for next generation 4G wireless spectrum via a disallowable instrument. As I have said in this chamber before, that is the sort of legislation you would expect to see in communist Russia: We wont let a commercial company bid for next generation 4G wireless spectrum unless you do what we tell you to do in relation to other matters. That is, you have got to sell your copper network to NBN. If you dont do that, were going to penalise you by saying that you cant bid for the next generation 4G wireless spectrumwhich is a very valuable asset which Telstra, like everyone else, should have the ability to bid for. The government would threaten Telstra, saying, Unless you agree with everything we say, you cant bid. Youll be the only Australian who cant bid for this. That is the sort of dictate that you would get from communist Russia of old. Our amendments will remove those provisions of the bill which provide ministerial discretion.

Our amendments will also remove the gun-at-the-head provisions of the bill which threaten Telstra with being forced to divest its high-frequency coaxial cablethe HFC pay television cablesor its 50 per cent interest in Foxtel if it does not voluntarily structurally separate in ways acceptable to government. This is legislation that would be unheard of in most other democratic countries of the world. It is the Labor government saying to a commercial company operating in Australiaa businessman, so to speakUnless you do what we, Big Brother the government, tell you to do, we are going to make you divest your pay television cable and your 50 per cent interest in Foxtel. That is un-Australian, undemocratic and the sort of thing you would not expect to find in any legislation in any democratic institution anywhere in the world.

These amendments are moved together for drafting reasons, largely so that consequential changes to the bill are consistent. While the government claims that the proposed deal between Telstra and NBN Co. render these amendments unnecessary, we actually believe that, at a philosophical level, this approach to obtaining agreement to the change of structure from private entity is absolutely indefensible.

These are worthwhile amendments. I could go on at some length about them, but I am aware that Senator Cash wants to speak to the amendments and perhaps elaborate on them. So I will not take further time of the Senate in line with my view that we should be progressing this and getting through the amendments as quickly as we reasonably can.

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (4:23 PM) I am not actually speaking to that. We are very keen to progress this debate. It is an important piece of legislation. The opposition has some very sensible amendments that we want to move. I am conscious that no more of my coalition colleagues want to speak on the Greens amendments. Perhaps Senator Ludlam has a response to the questions that were asked, although he was out of the chamber when they were being asked, so I suspect he will not be able to. If he did that, then we could actually vote on Senator Ludlams amendments.

We are still getting new amendments as we speak. Senator Conroy suggested that we have had a year to look at this, but, here we are, a minute before voting and we are still getting new amendments. Clearly, we have not had a year. In fact, we have not had a month, we have not had a week, we have not had a day. We will end up having about half an hour to look at the amendments as they come in. I am not being critical of that except to say that Senator Conroys hyperbole about having had a year is clearly false.

I urge the Senate to deal with Senator Ludlams amendments so that we can move on to the coalition amendments, which are listed next, and then, hopefully, we will get to Senator Xenophons amendments, which seem interesting. That is the course of action I urge upon the Senate.

Just to recapitulate: the coalition will not be supporting Senator Ludlams amendments, but we are very keen to progress this debate. We do not want to filibuster and keep this debate going in the way the Labor Party have been proceeding. We want to move on. We are very keen to do that. I am looking forward to moving our amendments. We will not be dividing, unlike the Greens, who divide on everything and waste so much time in doing that. We will not do that, because we are very keen to make sure the Senate has the maximum amount of time.

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (3:22 PM) I want to respond to that rather sanctimonious comment by Senator Ludlam. Yesterday, as the first speaker after Senator Ludlam moved his amendments, I asked him some questions. He walked out of the chamber. He was not here for the entirety of my speech. Here I was asking him questions and they were falling on deaf ears. So Senator Ludlam should not be so sanctimonious. We did ask him questions, but he chose to leave the chamberand he is leaving again now. If I want to ask him questions now, how can he possibly answer them because he is walking out of the chamber when I am about to ask questions I know Senator Johnston has questions as well. But why bother asking Senator Ludlam when he leaves the chamber whenever we asked him a question What sanctimonious claptrap!

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