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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1399 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I ask for leave to have my speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows:

Mr Speaker, all Members of this Legislative Assembly recognise the importance of ready access to high quality telecommunications infrastructure and services to the future well-being of the ACT community. Access to high quality affordable services will underpin the future competitiveness of a growing number of ACT businesses and also help to improve the quality of life of ACT residents.

Telecommunications based services are increasingly being used to improve access to a broad range of Government services. They are increasingly important to the provision of educational services and in linking the ACT to opportunities around the world.

ACT residents and businesses have a proud record in engaging with the new digital economy and the many employment and entertainment opportunities it offers. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that the ACT is leading Australia in home use of computers and access to the Internet. The ACT is also leading the way through the roll-out of the TransACT fibre optic network and the broadband capability it will bring to ACT households over the next few years.

Mr Speaker, the Utilities (Telecommunications Installations) Bill 2001 is a further element in the Government's efforts to facilitate the provision of telecommunications infrastructure and services to the benefit of the ACT community. The Bill addresses the particular circumstances of the ACT. It seeks to ensure that unnecessary costs are not imposed on businesses and consumers in the ACT by providing a mechanism for avoiding undue administrative burdens and costs that would arise in the absence of the provisions in the Bill.

As Members would be aware, the Commonwealth has primary responsibility in the regulation of telecommunications infrastructure and services. The Commonwealth regime, however, recognises that in the installation of some telecommunications infrastructure such as cabling, local circumstances, interests and issues may be important. As a result, the Commonwealth regime makes provision for States, Territories and local governments to put in place their own laws to supplement the Commonwealth provisions, if the particular jurisdiction identifies a particular need to do so.

In many parts of Australia, telecommunications cabling is installed on electricity poles and related infrastructure. Under the Commonwealth regime, carriers would need to consult and seek the agreement of every landholder whose property the cables passed over. In most parts of Australia this approach would be of limited cost as power poles are generally located to the front of properties, on public land.

In the ACT, planning over many years has resulted in the utility infrastructure such as electricity poles being located in back yards. This poses potential problems for any telecommunications carriers wishing to install new infrastructure such as cables. Resistance by only a few landholders could delay or deny installation of cables to certain areas and the provision of services to many other households and businesses.

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