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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2034

Telecommunications


Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (14:07): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the latest developments in delivering the structural separation of Telstra? How is the government getting the job done on delivering this and the other major reforms we need to build Australia's future?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:08): I thank the member for La Trobe for her question. As the representative of an outer urban electorate in this place, I am sure that she, like many other members, takes plenty of calls in her electorate office and has plenty of people seeking to speak to her on the streets of her community about their inability to get broadband—their inability to get a service.

Today is a landmark day in the development of telecommunications for this country. Today the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has approved the structural separation of Telstra. Our 100-year-old copper network has served us well but it will not meet the needs of the future. To meet those needs we need superfast broadband. We need the National Broadband Network. And, to ensure that the National Broadband Network can be got to Australians in the most equitable way with services at the cheapest price, we need the structural separation of Telstra so that there are wholesale services and there is retail competition on those services. That is what structural separation means and that is what has been achieved by this government.

This is the delivery of a major reform, much delayed in this country, spoken about for 20 years but delivered by this government, delivered through legislation at the end of last year and now getting the regulatory approvals it needs today. That means that we now have in place the funding, the legislation and the regulatory approvals to get superfast broadband around the nation.

This is another example of the government getting the big things done, the big things that will make a difference to our future prosperity as a nation. It is inconceivable that we can hold our place in a competitive world if we are working on yesterday's technology and other nations are working on the technology of the 21st century.

What today confirms is that in the 2013 election the nation will face a choice. Right around the nation for so many communities that choice will be an incredibly simple one: broadband or no broadband? That will be the choice. Productivity and prosperity in the future, or yesterday's technology? Twenty-first century delivery of healthcare and education services, or leaving our hospitals, GP clinics and schoolchildren behind? On this side of the parliament, we stand for embracing that future and shaping it in Australia's interest, and today is a very important day in ensuring that we get the National Broadband Network done.