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Thursday, 25 November 2010
Page: 3908

Mr TURNBULL (1:25 PM) —I move:

(1)   Schedule 1, item 6, page 5 (lines 2 to 5), omit the item.

The SPEAKER —The member for Wentworth, having moved his amendment as circulated, has given me the ability to make a ruling about whether the motion is in order.

Mr Turnbull interjecting

The SPEAKER —I have not ruled yet. I would like to assist you in your submission to me. I am ruling amendment (3) out of order on the basis that it was dependent upon the member for Wentworth’s amendment (1) being successful. I have looked at the original Senate amendment (2), and I believe that his amendment to schedule 1 goes well beyond the elements of Senate amendment (2).

Mr TURNBULL —As Mr Speaker knows, the definition of ‘relevance’ is something which bears upon or is connected with the matter at hand, and a consequential amendment is something which follows from the previous amendment. The amendment that is before us, relevantly, is the addition of an object which reads:

… the availability of accessible and affordable carriage services that enhance the welfare of Australians.

The amendment I am submitting is relevant, in the sense that it bears upon and is connected with that new object, and following from it is the new part 10 providing for a Productivity Commission inquiry. That Productivity Commission inquiry is stated in new section 24A to have the purpose of enabling Australians to determine whether the object in subsection 3(1)(c)—the Greens amendment—is being realised. Of course, the object speaks to the welfare of all Australians.

The critical importance of a cost-benefit analysis to the issue of the welfare of all Australians was underlined by the Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry, when he said:

… government spending that does not pass an appropriately defined cost-benefit test necessarily detracts from Australia’s wellbeing—

which is another word for ‘welfare’—

that is, when taxpayer funds are not put to their best use, Australia’s wellbeing—

which has the same meaning as ‘welfare’—

is not as high as it otherwise would be.

Given that the Senate has concluded that an object of the act should be the availability of accessible and affordable carriage services that enhance the welfare of all Australians, it is highly relevant for the parliament to provide in the act, relevant to that object, a mechanism to enable Australians to determine whether that object is being realised. The amendment therefore flows logically from the Senate amendment that has been passed.

This amendment (3), setting up the Productivity Commission cost-benefit analysis, does not flow from the amendment that I put a moment ago and which was defeated. It flows from the amendment that is the new object to section 3(1) of the Telecommunications Act.