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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1911

Telecommunications


Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (14:56): My question is to the Minister for Communications. Will the minister tell the House what the government is doing to consult with business in the communications sector and lower the burden by deregulation? And what changes has he made to the arrangements for his dialogue with business representatives tomorrow?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthMinister for Communications) (14:57): I thank the honourable member for his question and acknowledge his lifelong interest in deregulation and experience in small business—indeed, as Pakenham's leading draper. He is very committed to small business.

There is a big difference between our approach to regulation and the Labor government's approach. Labor believes in its heart that government's job is to tell the people what was best. It believes government knows best. We believe that our role in government is to enable citizens and businesses to do their best, and that is why we are committed to removing $1 billion a year off the cost of regulation and red tape, and the first instalment will be presented in this House later this month.

In my portfolio, media and telecommunications are heavily regulated, and we are already busy consulting with the industry. We have been doing that from the outset of the government, and tomorrow there will be a ministerial advisory council meeting with CEOs from the telecommunications sector and indeed from the media sector, the broadcasting sector, as well.

But there are some very big differences. The first thing is that we are calling them together to seek their views, to get their input, to ask them. We are not calling them together the way the previous minister did, in a classic example of Conrovianism, bringing them together to tell them what he was going to do. A year ago, the representatives of the media sector came to this House—

Mr Dreyfus: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: the standing orders do require that the minister be directly relevant to the question, and he has strayed very, very far from the question.

The SPEAKER: It is a very wide-ranging question. The minister has the call.

Mr TURNBULL: Thank you, Madam Speaker. It is good always to know that the member for Isaacs, again and again, reminds us that anyone can go to jail if they get the right lawyer. I had always assumed that the member for Isaacs was one of the neo-Conrovians. Neo-Conrovianism is a growing tendency in the Labor Party, trying to bring Conrovianism into the 21st century. But I can see now that he is an unreconstructed Conrovian at his heart.

The second difference about the meeting tomorrow is this: the previous minister had said in New York in 2012 that he was so powerful that if he told telco executives they had to wear red underpants on their head before they saw him, they would have to do so. He said, 'I have unfettered power'—his words. There are timid souls, neo-Conrovians among them, who would say that we should just have a half measure: simply stop stipulating the colour of the underpants! We are prepared to stand up to vested interests in the undergarment industry.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, both to raise a point of order and to preserve the dignity of the House—

The SPEAKER: What is the point of order, Manager of Opposition Business? We have already had one on relevance. You cannot have two.

Mr Burke: So you will not let me do 104 again? How about 91c?

The SPEAKER: I think that he is a killjoy!

Mr TURNBULL: We are prepared to stand up to those who are interested in undergarments, who are professionally or, indeed, interested in any other sense. We will go full measure. We are absolutely determined to extirpate Conrovianism in all of its forms and there will be no shirking.