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Monday, 9 December 2002
Page: 7372


Senator LUNDY (1:24 PM) —by leave—I move amendments (R5), (6), (R7), (8), (R9) and (R10) on sheet 2753:

(R5) Schedule 2, item 60, page 29 (line 26) to page 30 (line 4), omit subsections (5) to (7).

(6) Schedule 2, item 60, page 30 (line 30), omit “or (6)”.

(R7) Schedule 2, item 62, page 33 (lines 20 to 28), omit subsections (7) to (9).

(8) Schedule 2, item 62, page 35 (lines 20 to 22), omit subsection (17).

(R9) Schedule 2, item 95, page 51 (after line 8), at the end of subsection (2), add:

Note: Section 152AH contains a list of matters to be taken into account in determining whether terms and conditions are reasonable.

(R10) Schedule 2, item 95, page 51 (lines 9 to 20), omit subsections (3) to (6).

I seek some clarification. As I understand it, we still need to return to previous Democrat amendments.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Ferguson)—Yes.


Senator LUNDY —As stated in our speech in the second reading debate, Labor have concerns about the ministerial power of direction under the new special anticipatory access provisions. There is a major difference between the new special anticipatory arrangements and the existing ordinary access arrangements. The new special anticipatory category requires the ACCC to take into account the views of the minister by disallowable instrument in determining whether or not to grant anticipatory access undertakings or exemptions. To ensure legislative parity between special, or anticipatory, and ordinary undertakings and exemption provisions, Labor's amendments remove the ministerial power of directions under the new special anticipatory access provisions.

Given the current controversy over the Foxtel-Optus content sharing deal, it is important that the government ensures that access arrangements legislated for anticipatory services are the same as those for existing ordinary services. The ACCC should continue to use the long-term interests of end users test to guide its access decisions. The ACCC should not be subject to undue political interference. It must be left to do its job. I would like to quote the minister from a few minutes ago in this debate. He stated himself that he would rather see the ACCC's objectivity `unquestioned' in relation to ministerial direction. I look forward to the government's support in relation to this amendment.

I believe Labor's amendments will ease concerns that the regulator could be influenced by the short-term political considerations of the minister rather than using the existing long-term interests of end users test, as is currently the case for ordinary access decisions. I think this very important amendment is worthy of support as it will strengthen the anticipatory access provisions, which Labor supports in principle. I would be interested to hear what other parties have to say, and I would like to make a few more comments before we conclude this aspect of the debate.