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Transcript of launch of the Australian Communications Authority tool kit for fixed line services and internet, Parliament House, Canberra.



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MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE ARTS

SENATOR RICHARD ALSTON

Launch of the Australian Communications Authority Tool Kit for Fixed Line Services and Internet

4 June 2003

Parliament House, Canberra

Transcript

(Check against delivery)

E&OE.........................................................................................................................................................

Thanks very much John.

I think any area of Government policy these days has its fair share of technology jargon. But most of my colleagues would probably say communications and IT is another league again ahead of all of those.

So, it is a minefield of technical complexity and for many people that can mean that they come up with second-best solutions, or they're more susceptible to being sold more expensive packages than they want. In all sorts of ways consumers can feel quite often that they're overwhelmed by technology.

So it is understandable when both Besley and Estens did the rounds of the country looking at adequacy in telecommunications services they were reminded on a regular basis that what people actually wanted above all was easy to understand products and services that are on offer, the way technology operates. If they're policy aficionados, how the regulatory system works, what the role of government is. And to do that in a simple, plain English way I think is something that's very much needed and as John said the response to the launch of the mobile Tool Kit some twelve months ago has been overwhelming. Something like 50,000 hits on the website which is 1,000 a week (inaudible) of technology people have a great thirst for knowledge.

So when we are talking fixed line, which is the old traditional, plain old telephone service, and the internet which is the 21st century way of the future, you're really covering both ends of the technology spectrum. So to have another Tool Kit that does give people a way through this jungle I think is tremendously important. So I congratulate the ACA and those who are here today representing the various units that have put this together.

I think it is a very timely release and I am sure that there will be a great thirst for it. It will be widely advertised. It will be promoted at field days in rural areas, home shows in capital cities. People will I think come to know about it...but because when people are talking amongst themselves and want to understand how the system works, I think they will be very quickly made aware of the efficacy of the Tool Kit. So it is a great pleasure to be able to launch it today and again, congratulations to all those involved.

Journalist: I just wondered what your response is to the Prime Minister's decision.

Minister: I think the overwhelming view of the party is that it's a decision for him to take. But in the circumstances, I think the way in which it has been handled by the principal participants has been very impressive. I think Peter Costello's response shows maturity and an understanding of the importance of team work, the tremendous role that both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have played in tandem, and I'm very confident that will continue. So I think that it is a very good day for the Party, when you can have that sort of maturity of response to what is inevitably a difficult decision that impacts on people's lives.

Journalist: Telstra are telling the NFF this morning....(inaudible)

Minister: As you know we have maintained our policy position on this in the last three elections. We are still very committed to getting the Government off Telstra's back and allowing it to make commercial decisions. I think that what Telstra is doing is simply a continuation of its understanding of what the bush is about. The bush is becoming more competitive. We have already spent over a billion dollars over the last five years rolling out infrastructure.

Journalist: On the cross-media laws....(inaudible)

Minister: Again, work in progress. We are always prepared to talk to people who are interested in the policy debate. The tragedy of course, is that the Labor Party, which has privately been telling people quite recently that it is in favour of these changes, is still not prepared to publicly support them. I think that is just indicative of their political expediency, that they're not prepared to support them. So we will continue to talk to others who have open minds.

Journalist: How many independents....

Minister: I don't have a view on any of that. I think it is premature to talk in terms of where people's positions are. We will certainly be in a position I think to look at the legislation hopefully in the not too distant future and that will then tell you where everyone stands.

Journalist: When will you be introducing the spam legislation?

Minister: Well as soon as possible really. It does need to go to Cabinet. I don't anticipate difficulty in that regard. I think it is probably more a question of drafting. There are some complexities in terms of the impact...and there are definitional issues as well. Having said that, I think there has been overwhelming community support. So there's no political obstacle, it's really just a matter of getting through the processes as quickly as possible.

...ends

Media contact: Simon Troeth 02 6277 7480 or 0439 425 373 Website: www.richardalston.dcita.gov.au