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Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Page: 1898

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (7:10 PM) —in reply—I believe that the people who are opposing this bill and opposing the National Broadband Network should indeed hang their heads in shame. We have known for years that those opposite had countless plans—perhaps 20—which amounted to us being in the position of falling behind the rest of the world.

As government speakers have made clear, the NBN will provide broadband infrastructure to underpin productivity, prosperity and creativity into the future. Even opposition members have agreed that there is a need for much improved broadband services, noting a litany of poorly served areas. These bills ensure that NBN Co. delivers key objectives. Together the NBN companies bill and NBN access arrangements bill will ensure that the NBN operates on a wholesale-only, open and equivalent access basis, both now and into the future, subject to strict ACCC oversight.

Under this legislation there is transparency of the services NBN Co. provides and the terms and conditions on which it offers them. As a wholesale-only, open access network and without the conflicts that occur with also having a downstream retail operation, the NBN will drive fair and effective retail-level competition in the telecommunications sector across the country. It will mean more choice, more affordable prices and higher quality services for Australian households and businesses. Industry is crying out for this legislation to ensure NBN Co. adheres to the mandate the government has set it and to provide for its future operations.

The bills provide a clear framework for the operation of a superfast universal national broadband network with genuine retail-level competition for the first time across the country. In fact the bills are an important part of this government’s plan to transform the industry and provide genuine access to vastly improved broadband services across Australia. This is about advancing the future agenda in the national interest. Passage of these bills will ensure the new arrangements are in place as soon as possible, providing certainty for NBN Co., certainty for industry and certainty for the community. I commend the bills to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.