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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 236..


Questions without notice

Broadband services

MR STANHOPE: Is the Chief Minister aware of a review by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission of Telstra's pricing regime for supply of broadband services via asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) technology? Is the Chief Minister aware that similar services using the same technology are available in the US for a price of around $US30 a month? Is he aware of an industry view that the ACCC review is likely to see significant reductions in Telstra's current $90 a month minimum charge?

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Mr Stanhope for his question. I have heard about the review. I am vaguely aware of the review taking place but I cannot pretend to have much information to provide to the Assembly about that. But, if the question is whether I am aware of it in that general sense, the answer is yes.

MR STANHOPE: May I ask a supplementary question. Actually, I probably should have continued with my question for the Chief Minister. It would have made more sense. I apologise. My supplementary question is: can the Chief Minister tell the Assembly what impact such a reduction in ADSL service charges might have on TransACT's fledgling broadband business, given that TransACT's pricing structure is based around an installation fee plus content partner costs regime? Given that ACT ratepayers own-through Actew-at least part of the company, can he tell the Assembly how many subscribers TransACT has signed up since it began its phase 1 rollout and what its subscription projections are?

MR HUMPHRIES: It is a reasonably good question but I really do not have the capacity to answer it right now. I will take the question on notice. Obviously, any reduction in the charges of competitors will be of significance to TransACT. TransACT is, in my view, very competitive and I am sure any good enterprise of that kind will have factored in some movements in its competitors' prices, but the extent to which it has been able to factor in what the ACCC has been doing with respect to Telstra I could not say. I will take the question on notice and supply a more comprehensive answer.

Information technology

MR HIRD: My question is also addressed to the Chief Minister. Could the Chief Minister please advise the Assembly of the steps that the government is taking to bridge the digital divide between the people who have access to information technology and the skills to use it and the people who suffer social disadvantage in the community?

MR HUMPHRIES: I think Mr Hird must have been colluding with Mr Stanhope in asking that question about technology, Mr Speaker. I thank Mr Hird for the question. Obviously the issue of the digital divide between those in this community who are capable of being connected and those who are not is a serious issue, and one which I believe all members of this Assembly have acknowledged at some point. Anybody who observes that situation will be concerned at the lack of capacity for people on low incomes, the unemployed, people with disabilities and the elderly to be part of that information revolution. That dichotomy is perhaps more pronounced in a town like Canberra where we have such a high rate of take-up of, for example, Internet access. In


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