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Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Page: 5949

Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (18:46): The second set of amendments would undermine the level playing field arrangements in new developments. This would mean small providers would not have to offer a layer 2 bit stream service on a non-discriminatory basis or to operate on a wholesale only basis.

Vertical integration and the lack of wholesale services have been longstanding concerns in new developments. People have moved into new estates with fibre, only to find they have no choice of retail provider and are captive to the vertically integrated provider whose prices are high. The approach of the government means end users will enjoy NBN Co-like outcomes, regardless of the network provider—in other words, choice. First, the provider will need to provide a suitable low level layer 2 bit stream product that wholesale customers can use to provide higher level services; second, the layer 2 service will need to be provided on an open non-discriminatory basis; and, third, the provider will need to offer that service on a wholesale only basis. As such they have been required to provide comparable outcomes to the NBN.

The arrangements also ensure that NBN Co. operates on a more level playing field, meaning it is better placed to provide faster broadband across 93 per cent of Australia, an open access platform for retail competition across Australia and uniform national wholesale pricing for the benefit of all Australians, including those in regional, rural and remote areas.

As such, these amendments should be seen as nothing more than an attack on the fundamental economics of the NBN. Do not be fooled by the smooth talking from those opposite. These amendments are a fundamental attack that would destroy the economics of the NBN, so do not believe the smooth talk from over there.