by Alan Thornhill
The proposed high speed National Broadband network has moved a step closer, with legislation, setting out its regulatory structure, passing both houses of Federal parliament.
A key independent, Tony Windsor, declared that he had been proud to support that legislation.
“For country people, in particular, there are some incredible opportunities,” the rural based independent said.
“A lot of those opportunities, haven’t been invented yet,” he added.
No-one is pretending that the NBN will be cheap.
A cost of $43 billion has been advanced, but that is not a final figure, by any means.
But a faster internet is clearly needed, to keep Australia competitive in the years ahead.
The proposed network’s champion,Stephen Conroy, said passage of the bills underpins the Government’s policy of promoting sustainable retail level
competition, and fair pricing of wholesale services for all Australians.
The Coalition, though, declared the network would be a monolith, that would dominate Australia’s telecommunications.
It argued that a much cheaper alternative, relying on competitive forces, would have achieved better results, for both business and consumers, much more cheaply.
The passage of the bills followed long and exhaustive debate in both houses of parliament, which spilt over in what had been scheduled as non sitting days.
“The Bills set out a clear regulatory framework to provide that NBN Co will operate on a wholesale-only, open and equivalent access basis, delivering long term benefits for competition and consumers,” Senator Conroy said.
He said described the passage of the Bills was “another step closer to an historic milestone.”
Rob Oakshott, Andrew Wilkie, Adam Bandt and Bob Katter also supported the bills.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Saturday May 25
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