The office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has reaffirmed the Government’s will to debate its telecommunications reform legislation this week amid concerns voting on the bill may be pushed back to May.
Sporadic debate broke out again last night on the Telecommunications Legislation Amentment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill, which features among pages provisions to ensure the break-up of Telstra into wholesale and retail divisions. However this morning the bill was not listed for debating on the Government’s run sheet.
“The Government is committed to passing the bill and we intend to bring the debate back on this week,” a spokesperson for Conroy said this afternoon.
The Senate’s last day for considering legislation is Friday, with the next brief sitting period to start from 11 May (three days) and the next extended sitting period (two weeks) starting on 15 June. The Government had also expected to introduce its controversial internet filtering legislation in the March timeframe.
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam in late February said the Senate “could politely be described as constipated”, due to what he claimed at the time were Opposition attempted to delay and block everything passing through the upper house.
Ludlam predicted the filtering legislation would have to wait until after the next Federal election.
The Government does have a Senate majority and would have to rely on cross-bench support — meaning the Greens and independent senators such as Steve Fielding to get its legislation through the upper house. Reports this week have focused on the belief that Fielding holds the balance of power for the telecommunications legislation in the Senate.
Image credit: Office of Stephen Conroy