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Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Transcript of the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP on 3AW Melbourne about untimed local calls and deregulation

11 May 2015

3AW, Melbourne, Neil Mitchell

NEIL MITCHELL:

Malcolm Turnbull, Communications Minister, good morning.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Good morning Neil.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Will you take this idea out and shoot it?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

There will be no change to that regulation at all. The requirement to offer untimed local calls will continue, there won't be any change there.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Have you seen the briefing paper?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Yes I have seen a draft of it some time ago but it is not something that we will proceed with. Look, the Government has a big deregulation agenda going on. We have already saved the industry – and therefore their customers – $94 million a year in deregulation and we take a very open minded approach to it. And I will give you a good example – under the old rules, if you put yourself on the 'Do Not Call' register you had to renew your registration every three years. Now when you put your name on the do not call register, you're there forever, indefinitely. And that's good for consumers and saves money. So there's a lot of little things.

Now untimed local calls are not as big a deal as they were many years ago because of course most packages have unlimited local and indeed national calls often. And of course a lot of people call over-the-top using Skype or WhatsApp or whatever. So technology has moved on a bit. But I have given this some thought and considered this with my colleagues and the reality is – by my colleagues, I mean Paul Fletcher the Parliamentary Secretary – the reality is that while there may be possibly some savings to the telcos in terms of a little less complexity I don't think there are any benefits to consumers. I think it's one of those situations where the judgement has to be, no, while we're against regulation – you know, we would rather have fewer regulations than more – in this case it's not doing any harm, it's possibly doing some good so it will stay.

NEIL MITCHELL:

What was it worth to the telcos? What did it cost them to provide this?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look they say they have got no plans to introduce timed local calls and they couldn't -- you wouldn't be able to get anyone to put their hand up for it. They say there could be some simplification in their IT systems. What's going on Neil is that everybody in the industry – and this is a good thing – is looking around at every regulation and saying, is there some way we can get rid of the red tape, get rid of the regulation. This is a big part of the Government's – look, what is our objective? What is the objective of the budget? What is the objective of the Government? To promote economic growth. To ensure that we are able to maintain our prosperity and security in the years ahead and one of the ways we do that is by getting rid of unnecessary regulation and red tape. And that's thousands of items that have to be looked at. So we're going about it with an open mind. I think in this case, the benefits from removing that obligation, I can't see them in terms of the public and I can't see them really being very significant in terms of the industry. So I think that's one we'll just leave standing as it is.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So it will not happen.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

It will not happen.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Speaking of the budget, you need to have a good one. The Government needs to have a good one doesn't it if it is going to survive?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well every Government and every nation needs to have a good budget. And this will be a very good budget. I can assure you of that.

NEIL MITCHELL:

You're on the line though a bit, aren't you still?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I think the bottom line is this: We're in a much more competitive world than we have ever been before thanks to globalisation and technology and so forth. Australia needs to have the best, most competent economic leadership it can. That's why we've got a Liberal Government, that's why we've got the Abbott Government. We need to have the best Budget. We need to be focused at every level, not just in a couple of big-picture policies – they're important – but at every level, right down to the little things, everything we do has to be focused on making us more competitive, more efficient, able to be more innovative. All of that stuff, because the global market is bigger than ever…

NEIL MITCHELL:

Okay.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

There's more opportunities than ever but there's more competition.

NEIL MITCHELL:

And speaking of previous Treasurers, by gee, Peter Costello has given you a bit of a belting in The Australian today.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look I haven't seen that but – I can't comment on it.

NEIL MITCHELL:

He says you had Brendan Nelson in your sights from day one and you were too inexperienced to be leader.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well look the sad thing, I'll just say this, I didn't see that, but I'll just say this about Peter. One of the great tragedies, pities, of modern politics is that Peter didn't stick around. If he'd stayed after the '07 election he would have been elected leader of the party by acclamation and he may very well have been Prime Minister in 2010.

NEIL MITCHELL:

I think he agrees with that by the way.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well his departure – we all urged him not to go I can tell you. There was nobody tapping him on the shoulder – we all urged him to stay and we all urged him to change his mind, myself included. So he was a great Treasurer and I think he would have been a great Prime Minister and it's a pity he didn't have the chance. But that was his own call. But look he'd done 12 years in a very demanding job and he obviously felt he needed a break from it so you know you can't live other people's lives for them can you.

NEIL MITCHELL:

You cannot. Thank you very much for your time.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Okay thanks Neil.

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