NBN bills passed
Labor claims milestone in marathon day
THE Federal Government has squeezed two important broadband bills through the parliament after sweetening the deal for the rural independents. It’s promised to keep wholesale prices uniform whether customers live in the city or the bush and to analyse the impact to communities for any future policy change on technology. The pledges helped sway the independents from siding with the coalition on certain amendments, ensuring the passage of two critical National Broadband Network ( NBN) bills.
Independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor yesterday claimed the government’s undertaking as a win for the regions.
‘‘ The NBN is potentially the greatest piece of regional infrastructure in this coun- try,’’ Mr Windsor said.
‘‘ This is one piece of infrastructure that actually negates distance as being a disadvantage.’’
The bills, relating to access arrangements and the dealings of NBN Co, should have passed last week, but were subject to a raft of amendments on Friday.
Lower house MPs were then recalled yesterday to give the changes the final tick-off, rather than heading off on what should of been their six-week autumn break. But debate kicked off with a lengthy discussion about whether the amendments should even be considered or not, delaying talk about actual legislation for four hours. The coalition then introduced its amendments, prompting ac-cusations of hypocrisy for trying to change legislation that it ultimately opposes.
On a day of fiery debate, the coalition also accused the government of filibustering its own legislation as it worked to get the independents on side. Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull commented to Mr Oakeshott as he walked into the chamber later in the debate that he looked good ‘‘ for someone that’s been water-boarded’’.