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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1824

Mr Fletcher asked the Minister representing the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, in writing, on 25 November 2010:

In respect of the statement by the Minister: ‘On fixed lines connected to homes, I would anticipate, as I have said consistently for many, many months, we would have a monopoly.’ (Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Supplementary Budget Estimates, 19 October 2010, page 103): is this a reversal of the policy direction towards increasing competition which has characterised Australian telecommunications policy since the early 1990s.

Mr Albanese (Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) —The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

The Government is not creating any statutory monopolies for NBN Co. It is simply acknowledging the reality that, in the residential and small business markets, the fixed line access network by its nature has monopoly characteristics. As such NBN Co’s network is likely, in a practical sense, to be a monopoly in these markets just as Telstra’s copper network has been. In recognition that NBN Co’s access network will have monopoly characteristics, the NBN will be wholesale-only and provide open and non-discriminatory access subject to close Australian Competition and Consumer Commission scrutiny. These arrangements are detailed in the National Broadband Network Companies Bill 2010 and the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (National Broadband Network Measures—Access Arrangements) Bill 2010, introduced into the House of Representatives on 25 November 2010.