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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 3799

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (16:59): I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.

The Senate amendments amend clause 122 of the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency Bill 2011 and make other consequential changes to facilitate the disposal of information for complaint handling. They further support the processes of policy development and review for public interest communications services. The amendments enable TUSMA to disclose relevant information to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. This responds to part of recommendation 1 of the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee inquiry and reflects the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman's proposal to the committee that TUSMA be permitted to disclose information to the TIO.

The amendment to clause 122 will also allow TUSMA to provide information to the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee and the Secretary of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. This will support the processes of policy development and review. In particular, it would allow for the provision of useful information to the committee when reviewing the adequacy of telecommunications services for Australians in non-metropolitan areas. The amendments also ensure that TUSMA members have a sufficiently diverse range of knowledge, skills and experience to enable the agency to fulfil its charter.

The amendment to clause 38 implements recommendation 2 of the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee inquiry. The amendment would alter clause 38(2)(d) of the TUSMA Bill to delete the reference to 'economic' and require one of the appointments to be a person with direct experience in the field of consumer affairs. TUSMA members with experience in the telecommunications sector and business or finance will bring a necessary focus on efficient and effective service delivery to TUSMA's decision making. A person with knowledge and standing in consumer affairs would provide a valuable additional perspective to the decisions of the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency. My understanding is that this has the support of all the parliament. I thank the House for their support and I commend the amendments to the House.

Question agreed to.