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Monday, 9 December 2002
Page: 7365

Senator HARRIS (12:54 PM) —I rise again to indicate that One Nation will oppose the Labor and Democrat amendments. Part 2 of schedule 1, as the minister has said, refers to the production of industry development plans. I believe that both Labor and the Democrats are very much out of step with the industry position. I would be very interested to hear from both the shadow minister and Senator Cherry how they relate their position to a letter that I assume they also have received from Optus. I will quote it verbatim. It is a very short letter and it is dated 3 December 2002, so it is relevant. It states:

Dear Senator Harris

The Telecommunications Competition Bill 2002 is due to be debated in the Senate today or tomorrow. Optus supports the Bill.

I write to urge you to vote against a likely Labor amendment.

One provision in the Bill would remove the regulatory burden imposed on carriers to develop and report against Industry Development Plans (IDPs).

Optus and other telcos collectively spend billions of dollars each year on goods and services purchased from Australian industry. IDPs do not change what we do—they are simply a time consuming and costly regulatory burden.

For this reason, removal of IDPs was recommended by the Productivity Commission, in its inquiry into the Telecommunications Competition Regime.

Removing IDPs is particularly important for Telstra's competitors. Telstra is four times the size of its largest competitor, Optus. It earns three quarters of industry revenues and 95% of industry profits. This means that regulatory burdens like the IDP fall much more heavily on players like Optus than they do on Telstra.

Optus understands that Labor will move to delete this provision.

Optus believes the provision should be retained—and IDPs removed.

I therefore urge you to vote against Labor's amendment.

There we have from Optus the inference that other telcos are in agreement with them and that they want the government's amendment retained to remove the necessity to do IDPs. As they say, they spend billions of dollars a year purchasing goods and services within Australia, and IDPs have no effect on them and do not improve the situation whatsoever. IDPs actually create a greater burden on the smaller players. It is quite logical if you work out the arithmetic: if Telstra has to produce an IDP from 75 per cent of the funds in the market, there is a relative cost per unit to it. Then we have all the other players who have to produce their IDPs—exactly the same as Telstra—from 25 per cent of the remaining value of the market. So the cost per unit on all of the other players is, disproportionately, three times greater. When you have Optus writing to senators, asking us to support the government's position—that is, to remove IDPs—I find it quite perplexing that the Labor Party and the Democrats are moving to remove them. I place it on the record that One Nation will oppose the Labor and Democrat amendments.