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Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Page: 7643


Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (18:53): The relevant section concerning the minister setting standards is set out in item 9 of the amendment we are discussing, which inserts a new proposed subsection (4A) which simply states that the minister must consult ACMA and relevant industry bodies before making an instrument under proposed subsection (4). If the government took the concerns of industry seriously, they might in good faith be able to suggest some changes to that wording or suggest some other form of words. But the fact of the matter is that we face a real problem. It is the height of arrogance for the government to give such a response to this industry, all of whose members and representative bodies have come before the committee and said they have a problem, that they object to the bill and that they support an amendment of this kind.

The government is free to demonise and criticise the opposition as much as it likes and it does that every day. But the views or the concerns that we are speaking about here are not ones that have come out of some opposition tactics meeting, they have come from legitimate concerns from industry. The minister and his colleagues on the gover­nment benches should address those legitimate concerns. Why do they say that OptiComm, the greenfield operators, TransACT, HIA, UDIA and other organis­ations have all got it wrong? Are they suggesting that they do not know their own business? Are they suggesting—well, this probably is consistent with the Labor Party's philosophy—that government always knows best? Our view is that these people who come in good faith before this committee pointing out concerns with the legislation, seeking that the parliament respond in a constructive way, are entitled to be heard and their concerns addressed. If the government does not like our amendments, there is no pride of authorship from our point of view. This is not a work of poetry here. We are dealing with a genuine concern expressed by industry, and the government may not like our amendments but what is its solution to the concern that these people with their fibre contracting businesses and fibre installation businesses have in believing they will be driven out of business?

The government can talk about competition and it can talk about level playing fields. Is it seriously saying that these men and women who came and testified before our committee do not understand their own industry, do not understand their own businesses, and their concerns are to be ignored? My question to the minister is, if he does not like this amendment, what is he going to do about the legitimate concerns of these Australian private sector businesses which have come before a committee of this parliament and said that this bill and this NBN are going to put them out of business and cost jobs, cost opportunities, lose profits for them, lose their capital and wipe private sector businesses out with all the strength and muscle of the Commonwealth taxpayers' purse? The question for the government is, if they do not like what we put on the table to resolve these problems, what is their solution? Or is it just the chilly indifference yet again of big government knows best?