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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 975


Senator PETER BAUME(3.26) —I wish to draw attention briefly to the Government's response to the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure on Telecom Australia's Zonal Charging Policies. We are grateful to the Government for bringing down a response within the six-month period since the tabling of the initial report.


Senator Button —Stop now; that is a very nice speech.


Senator PETER BAUME —No, I must go on. Having said that, I have to say that it is not much of a response. In fact, it is no response-it is a response saying that the Government is not ready to respond. I urge the Government to come down with something more substantial and to respond in some detail to the points raised by the Committee. In particular, I draw the attention of the Senate to that sentence of the government's statement which says:

The Committee concluded that Telecom has not been sufficiently responsive to the needs of the Australian community in the 1980s . . .

That is a significant criticism of Telecom Australia. The community that depends upon Telecom for its services would like the Government to respond in some detail to that charge and to the evidence the Committee advanced to support its position on this matter. We are faced with a major Government monopoly which is insufficiently responsive to expressions of public concern. I go back to what Hamlet had to say about the calumny of power. We have to be sure that where criticisms like this are made the Government, on behalf of the small consumer of the services, takes those criticisms seriously, answers in detail the substance of the criticisms and proposes some program to allow us to assess whether the criticisms are warranted and what action should be taken. As I say, the Opposition thanks the Government for having come in with some piece of paper; it is a pity that it has said nothing.

Question resolved in the affirmative.