Australian independent senator may block other NBN legislation next year

29 Nov 2010

While Australia’s House of Representatives has now finally passed The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010, which pre-empts the structural separation of fixed line incumbent Telstra, opposition to other key National Broadband Network (NBN) legislation is set to continue, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Independent senator Nick Xenophon has reportedly said unless changes are made, he will vote against the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (National Broadband Network Measures – Access Arrangements) Bill 2010 when it is put in front of the upper house in February 2011, claiming that the proposals allow special treatment for Telstra.

The bill in question was initially introduced to the lower house this month, and sets out what services NBN Co, the public-private company set up to oversee the construction of the high speed network, can offer. The ruling Labour party argued that the transparency measures would set out ‘clear open access’, effectively stopping NBN Co from discriminating between access seekers. However, with the company allowed to negotiate varied terms and conditions for access, albeit only with oversight from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Mr Xenophon claims the legislation in its current form could allow for special deals between NBN Co and telcos such as Telstra. ‘These clauses will allow NBN Co to discriminate when it comes to pricing and could very easily end up reinforcing the market domination of the current players, especially Telstra,’ the senator remarked.

Australia, NBN Co, Telstra (incl. Belong)