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Sunday, 28 February 2010 22:02

Conroy brings forward telecom reform bill

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has vowed to bring forward the telecommunications structural reform legislation in the first March sitting week after accusing Coalition senators of blocking debate in the Senate.

Senator Conroy accused the Opposition of wasting an hour filibustering to prevent the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and
Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009 being debated.

"When it comes to allowing debate of legislation that will deliver competition benefits and a more effective market structure right now, the Liberals and Nationals have chosen to obstruct the debate," Senator Conroy said after the Senate adjourned until March 8.

"After doing nothing for 11 ½ years the Opposition are willfully and deliberately blocking measures designed to fix problems with the existing telecommunications regulatory framework," he said.

The Government was determined to debate and pass the Bill and would bring it forward during the March 8 sitting week, Senator Conroy said.

During heated exchanges on the Senate floor on Thursday, Opposition Whip Senator Stephen Parry dismissed the accusation of filibustering, complaining the Government continued to mismanage the Senate's time - and accusing Government of not setting aside enough sitting weeks in the year to carry out its own legislative program.

"You come in here and constantly try to rearrange (the Senate program)," Senator Parry said.

"You cannot even allocate enough sitting weeks in a year when we give you thousands and thousands of opportunities to do so, and we end up with a bit of a mess. You try to fit legislation in where you cannot fit it in."

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