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Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Page: 7652

Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (19:34): I am happy to answer the member for Wentworth any day of the week. The answer is that facilities based competition in Australia failed. That is why we are in the position we are in. For so many years we had the ACCC do its infrastructure reports on telco infrastructure and the level of competition. Every single year it would come out and look at the concentration and the vertically integrated state of our communications industry.

The member for Wentworth should also understand that there is another golden rule of telecommunications regulation, and that is to use existing facilities, physical infrastructure, wherever possible. That is why we have specific rules about things like telecommunications towers and a clear preference in the legislation for collocation before building new ones. That is why we have not only a declared services regime under the Telecommunications Act but also a regime for the sharing of physical infrastructure. By having this agreement in place with Telstra we are using the most efficient processes possible. I do not want people like the member for Gilmore having to complain time and again that the NBN is coming in and digging up her nature strip.

The member for Wentworth talked about the infrastructure that all these other countries have and the infrastructure that already exists in Australia. If you take the HFC network, of course that is covering 30 per cent in Australia—but too bad if you miss out on that and you do not live on the east coast of Australia; too bad if you live in a rural area and do not have the benefit of that network. He talks about the US. The US is a classic example of a country that has a long history of cable investment. That is not the Australian model. One thing he misses in his remarks is that Australia has been recognised, even by the International Teleco¬≠mmunications Union, as being absolutely unique and as needing an absolutely unique response when it comes to fulfilling not only our social responsibilities but also our economic responsibilities to the rest of Australia and to the Australian economy.

The answer to the member for Wentworth is that, over the course of this fibre rollout conversation that has been going on between this government and industry, this govern¬≠ment has listened to industry. That is why we have ended up with a bill that is ready to go through the parliament tonight and is able to provide certainty not only to the industry but also to consumers and to all those people in my electorate who are asking not why we are getting it but when. I know the member for Wentworth does not suffer from this problem because he has the privilege of representing an electorate that ranks very high in broadband accessibility by households. He is right up there with the best. But unfortunately the member for Hinkler's electorate is not and the member for Cowper's electorate is not. Greenway, which I represent, needs to do a lot better, and that is why this government has chosen Riverstone as the site of the first Sydney metro rollout. The member for Wentworth can try to make fun of my position all he likes, but he is merely leaving himself exposed as someone who is out of touch with reality and with the consumers of this country. We know he has one remit—to destroy the NBN—and that is exactly what he is seeking to do on this occasion.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr KJ Thomson ): The question is that amendment (12), as circulated by the member for Wentworth, be agreed to. There being more than one voice calling for a division, in accordance with standing order 133(b) the division is deferred until after 8 pm.

Debate adjourned.