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Tuesday, 6 June 1989
Page: 3402

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade)(11.35) —The Government opposes the amendment. It would negate the announced policy position of the Government, that is that the common interest group policy of Telecom should continue at present but be the subject of review by Austel and report to government. Any review of the common interest group policy raises extremely complex issues. It is of vital importance to the carriers because of the implications for the viability of the reserve services and for the operators of private networks. There are important efficiency considerations, but a balance must be struck between what could be seen as competing policy interests. It is the clear intention of the Government to retain the policy role in setting this balance. Austel's review of the common interest group policy will provide ample opportunity for all sectors of the industry to put a view on how the policy shall operate in future. I am not in a position to spell out further than that how that review will be conducted at this stage but, obviously, it will be sensitive to the various currents of opinion that do exist on this subject. There will be ample opportunity to debate the review and its implications before anything arising from it is set in concrete.