The Government’s controversial telco bill has finally passed the Senate and will be made into law. It became law with the support of the Australian Greens and cross-benchers, 30 votes to 28.
The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010 passed despite a last minute effort by the Coalition to extend debate on the Bill till 4pm on Friday.
Coalition Senators, George Brandis and Mary Fisher, attempted last-minute motions to suspend standing orders and extend debate on the issue – three of which were voted down after the 12pm deadline that had been set for voting on the telco bill.
But despite Coalition efforts, the Bill finally passed at 12:42pm. The passing resulted in applause and disruption from the Senate Gallery.
“The question now is that the remaining stages of this bill be agreed to and that the Bill be now passed,” Senate President, Senator John Hogg, said. "As a result of the division there being 30 ayes and 28 noes the matter is resolved in the affirmative."
The Bill has endured a rocky path, with the Coalition determined to oppose it. All cross-bench Senators required deals and concessions from the Government before agreeing to support it.
The Australian Greens only supported the Bill after getting Government promises to put NBN Co’s privatisation before a parliamentary vote before it can take place.
Senator Nick Xenophon only agreed to the Bill after the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, personally intervened for a last-minute deal to release a 36-page summary of NBN Co’s 400-page business case.
Senator Steve Fielding was provided with a full copy of the business case after agreeing to a confidentiality agreement to get his support for the Bill.