Australia’s opposition set to reject telecoms reform bill

10 Mar 2010

Australia’s opposition party, the Federal Coalition, is expected to reject the government’s upcoming Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009 this week when it is put before the Senate, iTWire reports. The Coalition has claimed that the proposals are a deliberate assault on fixed line incumbent Telstra, and those that hold shares in the telco. Tony Smith, the shadow communications spokesman, noted that the opposition were ‘utterly opposed’ to the legislation in its current form. ‘The Coalition has never advocated the forced break up of Telstra and this was never part of Labor’s plan before the last election. Labor’s attempt to force the break up of Telstra is all about trying to prop up their reckless AUD43 billion (USD39.1 billion) National Broadband Network (NBN), which they embarked upon without a cost-benefit-analysis or a business plan. This bully boy legislative attack on Telstra and its shareholders is an admission that their NBN isn’t commercially viable.’

It is understood that the Coalition will call for the telecommunications reform bill to be broken into two separate parts; it will seek to retain those elements of the bill which recast the regulatory environment for the telecoms sector, while the components calling for the structural separation of Telstra it wants ditched. In order to get the legislation through to a second reading the government will need to rely on the backing of the Green Party, which it is believed to have, alongside the votes of two independents.