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Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Page: 2219

Senator FISHER (South Australia) (11:19): Mr Chairman, am I able to ask questions of the minister?

The CHAIRMAN: Absolutely. That is your right, Senator Fisher.

Senator FISHER: Thank you. Minister Conroy, as my good colleague Senator Macdonald indicated, the government has circulated some amendments to the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency Bill 2011 and related legislation. As best I can work out in the limited time available it seems that the entirety of them—and they occupy some four pages—have to do with what is called the facilitation of the voice customer migration policy objectives. I presume that is all about facilitating the movement of voice customers during the transition to the NBN.

Given that these amendments have been circulated and that this issue has been raised by the government well after the original bill was introduced in the Senate and well after the Senate committee inquired into the bill, can the minister please explain to the chamber why the government has now seen fit to introduce this raft of amendments on the one topic when, as best I can tell, that topic has not been the subject of previous legislative consideration, nor indeed inquiry by the Senate Environment and Communica¬≠tions Legislation Committee or consultation with industry—to the extent that that was ever facilitated in any way by the government? So, Minister, why now, and how has this come about?