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Thursday, 24 March 2011
Page: 1922


Senator JOYCE (Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (1:40 PM) —No, you cannot get away with that. We are not talking about the different forms of technologies; we are talking about the standard unit which has been talked about throughout this chamber—that is, the megabit of speed. That is the standard unit. We are talking about the capacity for you to honour your promise of standard unit pricing. The unit is the megabit. If you want standard pricing on the unit then you must have standard pricing on the megabit, which would mean that a megabit in the satellite is the same price as a megabit in the wireless and is the same price as a megabit in the fibre.

Of course, that would involve cross-subsidisation, but it would be true, transparent and unequivocal. It would enable a benevolent third party, such as the ACCC, to become involved if there is a discrepancy in the future. It is disparaging to comment that any person who disagrees with you is somehow automatically an agrarian socialist. You were the one who talked about unit pricing at the start. We are trying to make sure that, if that is the case, we deliver on that promise.

I say very clearly to my colleagues in the chamber and in the other place: if you truly want unit pricing that looks after regional areas equally then you would have unit pricing on the megabit. You would not get sucked into the silo of saying you will give unit pricing but determine it on three specific outcomes: a unit price on fibre, which is almost exclusively in urban Australia; a unit price on wireless, which is inner regional; and a unit price on satellite, which is remote. That would leave them with the capacity to completely manipulate it and still be within the construct of the act. They could jack up the price on the satellite or the wireless and not be outside the scope of the act. If we want to tie them down, we could have it as unit pricing on the actual unit: the megabit of speed.