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Nick Minchin

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Liberal Senator for South Australia
Nick Minchin


Senator the Hon Nick Minchin

PO BOX 2141
Kent Town SA 5071

36 Grenfell Street
Kent Town SA 5067

Phone: 08 8362 8600
Fax: 08 8362 8579
Toll Free: 1300 301 647
(Toll free in South Australia only,
for the cost of a local call

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: 02 6277 3004
Fax: 02 6277 5703

Thursday, September 17, 2009 Printer Friendly Version

Is the real objective behind the Rudd Government's attack on Telstra, including its 1.4 million shareholders, 30,000 employees and 9 million customers, to create via its NBN company a new Government-owned monopoly of fixed line telecommunications?

This was the question Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Nick Minchin asked Communications Minister Stephen in question time today and which he did not answer.

Senator Conroy was also referred to comments made by former ACCC Chair Allan Fels who said that "the Government is playing with fire. By weakening Telstra, it may be killing the only foreseeable competitor to the NBN".

Senator Conroy has said that the break-up of Telstra is "not without cost” and Senator Minchin asked “whether the Government had undertaken any analysis of the costs to the company, its shareholders, employees and the telecommunications sector of imposing structural separation on the company."

Given the Government today is so supportive of the comments of the OECD, Senator Conroy was also made aware the OECD Working Party on Telecommunications and Information Service Policies warnings about structural separation:

"Vertical separation is a significant intervention in the market place with substantial and – unlike behaviour regulation which can be reversed – irreversible costs."

And: "There is little evidence that the benefits of structural separation of the local loop are sufficiently in excess of costs."

Senator Conroy, a former union official, was also asked if he was aware of the concerns of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, about his plans to break up Telstra.

The CEPU stated: "The impact of the planned reforms on Telstra – through either structural of functional separation – could see thousands of jobs in the nation’s major carrier come under intense pressure."

"As a former TWU official it is extraordinary that Senator Conroy has such scant regard for Telstra’s 30,000 employees and has no idea what negative impact his planned radical reforms will have on them or the company’s 1.4 million shareholders," Senator Minchin said.

"The Rudd Government wants Telstra broken up, only to replace it with a Government-owned monopoly, with no evidence this entity will enhance competition or deliver affordable telecommunications services for consumers across the country."

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