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The time for talk is over - Minister Alston, what is happening with the Framework for the Future Committee and the Broadband Advisory Group?



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Senator Kate Lundy Senator for the Australian Capital Territory Shadow Minister for Information Technology and Sport

The time for talk is over - Minister Alston, what is happening with the Framework for the Future Committee and the Broadband Advisory Group?

The refusal of Senator Alston to agree to release the report of the Framework for the Future steering committee demonstrates that the Minister for Communications and Information Technology is more concerned with talk rather than action.

Despite many assurances that the steering committee would report back to the Minister at the end of last year, nothing has been made public - in fact the Minister has actually avoided making any commitment to make the findings of the report public. The ICT industry does not even know whether a report has been written.

When the Minister was asked specifically whether he would release the report, the Minister told a Senate committee, “It depends entirely what is in it.”

In other words the Minister would hide the report if he does not like what it says.

There has also been no word from the Minister on the fate of the Broadband Advisory Group, which was also due to conclude its work by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Australia has slipped from 16th to 18th in recent OECD broadband penetration rankings. In 2000 Australia was ranked 13th.

Additionally the US based Competitive Telecommunications Association has expressed concern over what it describes as anti-competitive practices in Australia, including “excessive fees for local access leased lines.” The Broadband Advisory Group must address this issue.

The Framework for the Future Committee and the Broadband Advisory Group were announced by the Coalition in February 2002, after six years in office. They were supposed to provide high-level advice on ICT industry development and broadband take-up.

Almost a year later, the time for talk is over. Let’s see some action from the Minister.

20 January 2003. Media contact: Simon Tatz - (02) 6277 3334 or the Electorate Office - 0418 488 295.