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Thursday, 27 May 1999
Page: 5661


Senator HARRADINE (9:40 PM) —I was minding my own business when Senator Allison brought my name into it for some reason or other that escapes me. All I can say is that this is a matter that was considered by a committee of this parliament and the committee made certain recommendations in respect of these lines—0055 and 0051. One of those recommendations, for example, was barring. Though the Labor minister at the time accepted the recommendations, Telstra did not. That is a very black mark against Telstra. It is all very well for them to make money hand over fist, particularly when they just transcribed the 0055 to 1900. But under 0055 and 0051 you can have a barring system and under 1900 you cannot or they do not.

Apart from all of that, you have had case after case. Never mind about Senator Allison saying, `Ask the telcos about it.' They would say, `Yes, we're making money.' Ask the people about it. Look at the letters that have come in. I have had letter after letter in regard to the running up of phone bills by young people accessing these phone lines and talking to pimps and prostitutes. They are prostitutes talking to our kids. That is what we need to overcome. One particular letter I received was about a phone bill of over $700 that was rung up in three days by a 16-year-old boy. Another one was about somebody who lost their mobile phone and the person who found it ran up $2,500 over a weekend.

I think there is very little difference between the government's response and the opposition's except for the fact that the point Minister Alston made is a valid point: you really do need to have a deliberate opt-in situation in such a way that there is no possibility of there being any chance at all that that could not be absolutely verified before the access was provided. I am not going to respond to the statements made by Senator Allison because, frankly, they were non sequiturs. I am happy at some other time, when we have a bit of time, to deal with the matter. I indicate that I support the government's proposition as being one which reflects the views of those who have made a study of the situation and will effectively protect children or those who have been exposed and exploited by pimps and prostitutes.