Here’s why we need to split Telstra
The reintroduction of the Competition and Consumer Safeguards Bill is a key step towards delivering a vibrant and competitive telecommunications sector. It is in the interests of all Australians.
The Gillard Government is committed to addressing the mistakes of the past and establishing an effective and efficient telecommunications regulatory framework.
Reforms outlined in the Bill include restructuring the market to promote greater competition and strengthening consumer safeguard measures such as Customer Service Guarantee and the Universal Service Obligation.
Importantly, the Bill also sets out a framework for Telstra to seek approval from its shareholders on the proposal to migrate fixed-line services to the NBN. The Bill has been amended to provide the necessary legislative framework to support this arrangement, and provide regulatory certainty to Telstra and its shareholders. The Heads of Agreement is a critical step in delivering the much needed structural reform of the sector.
The Government has always said that any final agreement reached by Telstra and NBN Co is subject to independent scrutiny. The ACCC will review the arrangements proposed in Telstra’s structural separation undertaking to make sure that competition issues are properly addressed.
The Bill includes provisions that will authorise - for the purposes of trade practices law - certain conduct engaged in by Telstra and NBN Co that is required to promote the structural reform of the telecommunications industry. If the ACCC approves the undertaking, Telstra and NBN Co should be given certainty that their actions to comply with it are acceptable for the purposes of the Trade Practices Act. This will avoid the need for multiple regulatory processes under the Trade Practices Act, while still ensuring the necessary level of scrutiny on the details of the arrangements.
Other important measures in the Bill that provide greater certainty for Telstra include allowing Telstra to bid for spectrum, given it is proceeding with structural separation; and allowing the implementation of functional separation to be deferred, while the structural separation process continues.
The ACCC will not be able to approve Telstra’s structural separation undertaking unless it contains measures to improve equivalence arrangements to wholesale customers during the transition to the NBN. Telstra’s compliance with an undertaking will also become a condition of its carrier licence.
The fundamental reforms in the Bill address the long-standing inadequacies of the existing telecommunications regulatory regime. This is an important step in the reform of telecommunications which will result in a wholesale-only open access network, with protection for industry and consumers in the transition.
The Opposition claims it wants transparency and scrutiny, but at every step it has blocked and delayed the reforms that would benefit all Australians.
* First, they blocked a debate in the Senate on the NBN until the ACCC’s report to the expert panel was released –the report was released.
* Then, they blocked debate in the Senate until the Implementation Study was released – it was released in full in May.
* Third, they opposed the legislation because they claimed it was bad for Telstra shareholders - but the Telstra is now recommending the Agreement to their Board and Shareholders.
And just yesterday we saw another stunt by Malcolm Turnbull that is designed solely to delay the NBN. Mr Turnbull wants to the Productivity Commission to carry out a cost benefit analysis on the NBN.
To do a formal cost-benefit analysis that takes in every aspect of the economy and society that will be enhanced by the NBN would be a herculean task just for the applications we already know about. It would certainly take far longer than the seven months Malcolm Turnbull wants allocated to it. The Productivity Commission has been asked to do some work in the aged care area and looking at how the NBN can be used to make delivery of services more efficient will be examined as part of this. This work is just one small segment of the economy that will benefit from the NBN and yet this work will take over 12 months.
Mr Turnbull has twice been asked if he would support the NBN if a cost benefit analysis unequivocally support it and both times he has refused.
Let’s recognise the Opposition’s stunts for what they are. They are willfully delaying millions of Australians from getting a fairer deal on broadband and telecommunications services. Every day these reforms are delayed, is another day that Australians are more for second-class broadband services.
The Gillard Government is delivering this through the NBN and Australians don’t deserve any more delays.
If the Liberals and Nationals are serious about improving competition in the telecommunications market, and delivering better services for their constituents, they would support this legislation.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…