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Tuesday, 6 June 1989
Page: 3411

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade)(12.40) —The Opposition proposes in amendment No. 11 and in amendment No. 20 to refuse to continue the first telephone monopoly of Telecom, as Senator Alston has indicated. It was a clear decision of Government that Telecom should continue to have the sole right to supply the first telephone, at least until 30 June 1991, so as to ensure that the industry development arrangements (IDAs) applying to first telephones could be implemented. Opening first telephone supply to competition, in our judgment, would mean that it would be impossible to make the industry development arrangements work and it would threaten the massive investment of the Australian manufacturers in plant and equipment associated with the new touchphone 200. The industry development arrangements and the continuation of the first phone monopoly are designed to give the local industry time to adjust from a regime of high protection to one more appropriately based on full participation in the international marketplace.

The Opposition's approach threatens the future of the industry in this respect. We oppose it for that reason. There is much that one can say backwards and forwards about the merits, looked at separately and independently, of the first telephone question. There may, indeed, be some aspects of Senator Alston's concerns with which I would not strongly disagree. But this particular clause must be looked at and these matters must be looked at in the context of the IDAs to which I have referred. In that context, there is no question but that these two amendments must be opposed.

Senator Lewis —Why did you add the words `at least'?

Senator GARETH EVANS —What does the honourable senator mean by `at least'?

Senator Lewis —When you said, `the first telephone until 30 June 1991' you added `at least'.