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Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Page: 7651


Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (19:30): I heard the member for Greenway refer in positive terms to facilities based competition. I remind her that the government of which she is an enthusiastic supporter, particularly on this policy, has just paid billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to Telstra and Optus so that they will not use the HFC networks, their cable networks, to provides facilities based competition with the NBN. You have to ask: how good a business is the NBN if the government has to pay billions of dollars to cable companies—Telstra and Optus in this case—not to compete with it? How good a business is the NBN if it has to have legislation, such as the legislation we are seeking to amend, to effectively prevent private sector operators like TransACT and OptiComm from providing competitive services? The truth is that the government's mission here is to stamp out competition.

The member for Greenway was complaining about my remarks on the NBN, so let her put forward evidence to contradict this: no country in the world is setting out to eliminate facilities based competition in the way this government is here in Australia. In every other market where there is HFC cable available—it was invariably rolled out, as it was here, to provide pay television services—that HFC cable is providing competitive broadband and voice services. I mentioned in my remarks in the second reading debate yesterday that Korea and the United States are good examples. There are many others—the United Kingdom, most European countries; it is a very long list. Everywhere else in the world the benefits of facilities based competition are clear. That is what we are seeking to preserve, in a fairly narrow focus, in this amendment and of course generally in our critique of the NBN.

If the honourable member does not want to respond to that challenge, let her respond to this. She can talk about the concerns of her residents and make the spurious claim that somehow or other the coalition is delaying the rollout of broadband to the electorate—of course that is exactly what she will do when, come the next election, nothing has been done by NBN; she will no doubt say it is the fault of the Liberal Party—but the question that she must address if she is seriously engaged in this debate, and she has been a member of the NBN committee, is what she says to those companies and organisations that came before us and made these complaints, raised these issues, that we are seeking to address. The minister will not address that and the member for Greenway seeks to present herself as an expert in this area, so what is her answer? Are they wrong; do they not know their own business? Or, if they are right and they do have a problem, what is her alternative solution?