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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

Friday, October 09, 2009 Printer Friendly Version

There is no valid reason why the Rudd Government’s planned radical telecommunications reforms need to be debated by the Parliament and rushed through this year Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Nick Minchin said.

In its submission to the Senate inquiry into Labor’s Telecommunications Legislation Amendment Bill today, Telstra quite sensibly argues that the Bill should be shelved until after the conclusion of negotiations with the Government about the National Broadband Network and the completion of the project’s implementation study.

The viability of Labor’s $43 billion NBN almost solely depends on Telstra’s cooperation and involvement despite Government claims to the contrary. “This Bill is all about trying to force Telstra’s fixed line customers onto the NBN, while at the same time ensuring the company is not in a position to compete with a new Government-owned monopoly,” Senator Minchin said.

“Everybody knows the Government’s key objective is to force Telstra and its 1.4 million shareholders to prop up its reckless and risky $43 billion NBN Mark II proposal.

“While Labor claims these reforms are all about enhancing competition and delivering better outcomes for consumers, in its submission Telstra puts forward quite a compelling argument that the Bill as it stands would in fact reduce competition, harm consumers and destroy shareholder value.”

Labor wants to rush through its legislation aimed at forcing Telstra to structurally separate its business and divest key assets, including its fixed line network, cable network and Foxtel interests.

If Telstra does not bow to Labor’s pressure it will be subjected to a mandated functional separation regime and be banned from participating in future auctions for the spectrum it needs to upgrade and improve its mobile network, which covers 99 per cent of the population.

“Labor’s threat to deprive Telstra access to spectrum amounts to an extraordinary abuse of Government power and if imposed would harm those millions of Australians, including the many in rural and regional areas, who rely on Telstra’s mobile network for their telecommunications needs,” Senator Minchin said.

“It is obvious the Government desperately needs Telstra, therefore Mr Rudd and Senator Conroy should stop behaving like tin-pot dictators and instead engage in proper commercial negotiations with the company over the coming months,” Senator Minchin said.

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