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Tuesday, 8 October 1985
Page: 791

Senator COONEY(3.33) —Perhaps I could add a few remarks to what my learned leader, Senator Tate, has said about the Australian Telecommunications Commission.

Senator Puplick —What is this, the new faction?

Senator COONEY —The new faction of the back bench. Senator Tate made two good points. The first was that Telecom Australia is the subject, and will be the subject in the future, of debates about privatisation. Secondly, he said that this is an organisation that has been successful. Those two things go together, of course. The concepts of deregulation and of privatisation will gain more and more currency in the life of this Parliament. I think that Telecom is a useful organisation to examine in respect of those concepts.

Telecom has delivered two things. First, it has delivered social benefits to areas where those benefits were needed. In looking through the annual report of the Australian Telecommunications Commission we see at pages 40, 41 and 42 the sorts of services that this organisation provides and has provided in the past. For example, there is Viatel, which I understand is a service which ultimately may well make redundant the sorts of libraries we have now. It is a facility which provides information retrieval. That is the social contribution that this Commission makes. The Commission makes an economic contribution in the sense that it makes a profit which benefits Australia, as a whole. Privatisation ought to be looked at in terms of the results of a particular organisation rather than its origin. Simply to condemn an organisation because it has an origin in the public sector seems to me to be shortsighted. Any organisation, whether in the public or private sector, must be measured, not in terms of where it comes from, but in terms of where it is going. I see on the front cover of the report a photograph of the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy). This organisation has done well under his guidance. I notice that his tie is hidden, and perhaps, given the results of recent weekends, if the tie could be properly seen it would contain an Essendon logo.

Question resolved in the affirmative.