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Monday, 13 August 2018
Page: 4580

Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (19:52): I rise to outline the opposition of the Liberal Democrats to the Telecommunication Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. This bill empowers the Commonwealth to authorise the installation of temporary telecommunications towers against the wishes of local councils. The Commonwealth will be able to overrule local councils not just where temporary towers serve an emergency purpose but also when temporary towers facilitate peak demand, such as during holiday periods.

Local councils have a keen interest in ensuring that telecommunications in their areas work smoothly, particularly during holiday periods. So local councils won't get in the way when there is a genuine need for a temporary telecommunications tower. But local councils also have an interest in looking after the amenity of the local residents they represent. So local councils have a legitimate role in representing local residents by preventing excessive telecommunications paraphernalia next to their homes and their businesses in our pristine, natural areas. This is democracy.

The Commonwealth has a more distant connection with the people than any local government authority in any local government area. The Commonwealth is also in a position to do favours for the benefit of telecommunications companies rather than local communities. In fact, this susceptibility to crony capitalism is the only reason why the Commonwealth is seeking to override local councils. The Liberal Democrats stand for democracy, and that is why we oppose this bill.