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Thursday, 25 November 2010
Page: 2306

Senator BIRMINGHAM (8:43 PM) —Being all for transparency and accountability, as the opposition are, we are happy to support Senator Xenophon’s amendment (20) that will cause an annual report on the progress of the structural separation and, in particular, breaches of undertakings made by Telstra to be presented to the minister and, most importantly, to be tabled in this place. Notwithstanding my comments previously that we think it would be far preferable to accept the opposition’s amendments to maintain the ACCC’s existing powers, we accept this. I would flag that I think it is an amendment that at some stage will warrant repealing from provisions; that in perpetuity such an annual report is probably not warranted. However, noting that this chamber, Senator Xenophon and the certainly the opposition are not privy—I assume Senator Xenophon is not privy—to the time line of any deal with Telstra or the arrangement that exists with Telstra and how long that will take, it is a little difficult to put a sunset clause in such an amendment. I would take it that the ACCC will, hopefully, one day present a report that simply says that the structural separation is complete and successful and such further reports are no longer warranted, but we will be supporting amendment (20).

Question agreed to.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Senator Xenophon, I might just deviate for a moment and go to you. You wanted to withdraw some amendments. Do you think we should do that now so that we have got a tidy process?