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Monday, 8 May 1989
Page: 2028

Senator POWELL(10.04) —In my speech during the second reading debate, I foreshadowed that the Australian Democrats would not support this amendment. I make the point that Senator Lewis has drawn the attention of the Senate to the fact that the practice which is covered by the legislation, as unamended, has been operative since 1980, which means that between 1980 and 1983 this was happening under a coalition government and between 1983 and 1989 certainly under an Australian Labor Party Government. That probably only means that perhaps we could argue that the Labor Party is twice as bad as the Liberal Party, and from time to time honourable senators would find Democrats agreement on that.

The amending legislation is necessary because Telecom Australia made changes as a result of changes in technology. This, having begun in 1980, perhaps demonstrates that the coalition Government was incapable of legislating then as the Labor Party Government is now legislating to cover the changes in technology, that is, the closure of manual telephone exchanges and the consequent changes of boundaries to charging areas. No legislative base was put in place in 1980; it is going in 1989 and both the coalition and the Labor Party stand condemned for their lack of legislation in that time. We are now getting the legislation. Therefore, the Democrats will not support the amendment.