Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has praised his opposition counterpart Malcolm Turnbull, saying he has done a "great job" in bringing the party out of the 19th century on telecommunications policy.
Speaking at a telecommunications roundtable event in Sydney today, Conroy said he was optimistic that the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009 would be passed in the next two weeks of parliament due in large part to Turnbull shifting Liberal Party policy in favour of the structural separation of Telstra.
"The good news is that, since the election, Malcolm Turnbull has done a great job in dragging the Liberal Party forward from the 19th century," he said. "He's adopted our 2007 policy. Give him another couple of weeks he may have it at 2010."
Conroy said he would negotiate with Turnbull around the amendments to the legislation he has proposed.
"Two of them I think are unnecessary. They were based on a perception I don't think he has quite right, I think we can resolve that. One of them is interesting, I'll have to consider. I just need to see the drafting of it. I'm looking forward to having that conversation," he said.
With the old Senate still in place, Conroy may need to secure the vote of outgoing Family First Senator Steve Fielding in order for the legislation to pass the upper house. However, Conroy was also optimistic there.
"Steve Fielding has given some indications to newspapers that he has softened his view. Not that he ever said he was opposed to it," he said, adding that Fielding had privately raised a few issues with him that he couldn't go into at the time.
Amendments or not, Conroy said that parliament was now in favour of the structural separation of Telstra.
"It was quite a historic shift a couple of weeks ago about the structure of this sector that got lost in a lot of the colour and movement. You've seen now the entire parliament behind the change of structure of this telco. Malcolm's done an extraordinary job."