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Monday, 7 March 2005
Page: 1


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (12:31 PM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Amendment (National Relay Service) Bill 2005 amends Part 3 of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999, which establishes the National Relay Service (the NRS). The NRS provides people who are deaf, or have a hearing and/or speech impairment, with access to a standard telephone service, using operators who relay text messages to other telephone users. The NRS operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and includes a text based emergency service. It is funded by a levy on eligible telecommunications carriers. The legislation requires the NRS to be provided by a person under a contract with the Commonwealth.

The bill contains amendments to allow the Commonwealth the flexibility to contract with more than one person to provide the NRS. Under the current legislation, the Commonwealth can only contract with one person under a single contract to provide all aspects of the NRS. The amendments would allow the Commonwealth to consider the option of contracting with more than one provider to supply different components of the NRS, if that were deemed to be a more efficient and effective service model. The ability to contract with more than one provider would also enable a staged transition between service providers, in the event of a new provider winning a tender for provision of the NRS. This would minimise risks to the reliability and continuity of service for users of the NRS during the transition from one provider to another.