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Monday, 9 December 2002
Page: 7470


Senator LUNDY (5:12 PM) —I have a question for the minister about the definition of core services under the bill. This issue was subject to some discussion during the inquiry. I want to hear the minister's explanation as to why the definition of core services is limited in the way that it is, particularly in relation to a service like ISDN, which provides for a slightly faster Internet connection rate. My question is: why was that not included in the core services definition for the purposes of model access undertakings?

A general criticism of this bill not being strong enough is that many of the provisions deal with fixing or trying to fix some of the problems with the access regime and with disputes and arbitration that have been held in the past. While many of the provisions are designed with that intent, two issues stand out that I think are worthy of clarification. The core services issue concerns those model undertakings and exemptions related to technologies that are of the past, not so much of the future. So in that respect the bill does not extend itself into the types of services that will be used and in demand in the future— such as ISDN, which is a faster connection service but which is not captured by the model undertakings. I think it would be quite helpful in preparing new infrastructure providers and existing infrastructure providers to provide those types of services. I would like a response from the minister in relation to that.

The other issue, on which I think it is important to hear the minister's explanation, is his assurance that the removal of merits review from arbitrations will not result in further interplay or regulatory gaming between the merits review process for access undertakings and exemptions and the arbitration process, which now has no merits review. Witnesses at the inquiry expressed a lot of concern that the changes would just lead to regulatory gaming in another forum or in another way, despite the efforts outlined in this bill to prevent further regulatory gaming and to put a stop to some of the existing regulatory gaming, which I think everyone acknowledges has occurred.