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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

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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
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Coalition Seeks to Defer Labor's Bill to Break Up TelstraEmail this pageBack

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 Printer Friendly Version

The Coalition will seek to defer consideration of the Rudd Government’s radical telecommunications legislation until the completion of the National Broadband Network implementation study.

Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Nick Minchin said there was nothing in the Government’s legislation that urgently required it to be debated and rushed through the Parliament by the end of this year.

“This legislation is predominantly about the Government trying to force Telstra and its 1.4 million shareholders to prop up Labor’s $43 billion NBN project.

“It includes the outrageous provision to preclude Telstra from participating in future auctions for spectrum for higher capacity mobile broadband services, if it does not break itself up and divest its cable network and Foxtel interests,” Senator Minchin.

“Starving Telstra of mobile broadband spectrum amounts to an abuse of Government power against a company operating a mobile network which provides the broadest level of geographic coverage, in a highly competitive market in which its competitors have the majority share.”

“If Telstra does not play ball with the Government it will also be subjected to a mandated functional separation regime at the Minister’s behest. Senator Conroy’s key objective is to force Telstra to migrate all its fixed line customers onto the NBN and remove competition against a new Government-owned monopoly.

“The Coalition is not opposed to sensible telecommunications reforms and enhanced consumer safeguards, however, this legislation in its current form also affords new and almost unfettered powers to the regulator, which need to be carefully considered.

“The NBN implementation study is not expected to be completed until next February and hopefully at that time the Government will be able to provide a greater level of clarity in relation to what the future telecommunications landscape may look like.

“Therefore it makes perfect sense to defer consideration of this legislation until that time. The Government should use the coming months to engage in proper and undistorted commercial negotiations with Telstra about the NBN and the company’s structure.

“If debate proceeds the Coalition will propose detailed amendments to address the areas of concern after detailed consideration of the findings of the Senate inquiry into this Bill, but we remain fundamentally opposed to what amounts to a blatant attack on the shareholders of a publicly listed Australian company,” Senator Minchin said.

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