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Thursday, 20 March 1997
Page: 1951

Senator ALLISON(11.00 a.m.) —The Australian Democrats support these government amendments because we believe they increase the scope for consumer and public consultation in the development of industry codes of practice. In our minority report to the telecommunications bills inquiry we detailed a range of concerns about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness, as it may be, of a self-regulatory approach to consumer protection based on codes of practice. Our concern, which we share with consumer organisations such as CTN and the ACA, is that adequate consumer and public input is essential if such codes are to fulfil their intended purpose. Self-regulation will gain public confidence only if inclusiveness of consumer perspectives is assured. We recommend that greater public consultation and consumer representation involvement be given in developing draft codes.

So we welcome these amendments. I note, however, that the Greens' amendments 6 to 8, which are yet to be moved, will improve upon those amendments of the government and we will be supporting them as well. Finally, we are also pleased that the government has at least acknowledged some of our concerns about the handling of privacy matters in codes of practice. The Democrats pointed out in the minority report that it was not appropriate in certain instances for privacy concerns to be dealt with in—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Watson) —I think you might be jumping ahead to the next set of amendments.

Senator ALLISON —I thought we were dealing with—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Nos 44 to 49, 51 to 60, 152, 153 and 192 to 194. They are amendments moved by the government. You have been talking about Green amendments 6 to 8 to government amendments 50 and 61.

Senator ALLISON —Yes; I beg your pardon.

Amendments agreed to.