Telstra Separation Bill due on Wednesday

The bill to separate Telstra is expected to be tabled in the Senate on Wednesday.

Speaking at the release of NBN Implementation Study, the Communications Minister Stephen Conroy confirmed the Bills introduction and took the opportunity to slam the Opposition for its delaying tactics against the Bill’s introduction.

“The Opposition have employed every tactic possible to delay debating this Bill – they have had three debates about whether we should debate it… they have hijacked the Senate’s actual procedures… rather than allow the Government to bring forward its own bills,” he said.

“This Opposition is fundamentally rewriting the rules of the Senate in the way they are behaving and are hijacking Government business time [in the Senate].”

He also added that the Bill represented a functional, rather than structural, separation package.

“One of the misconceptions is that the Bill before Parliament at the moment forces structural separation, that’s not the case,” he said. “This bill deals with the existing structure of the market today… and gives new powers to the ACCC to try and deal with some of the problems this sector has had endemically.”

Conroy added that the Bill was necessary to address a range of telecommunication consumer issues including Telstra’s up-keeping of its Universal Service Obligation requirements.

“At the moment Telstra is ripping telephone boxes out of homes out of suburbs out of communities out of regional towns at an extraordinary rate -- 5000 or so in the last 18 months I believe,” he said.

“This legislation will introduce a stop mechanism. If the local community want to keep their local phone box they can go to ACMA…. ACMA can say [to Telstra] “no you can not.”

Conroy also confirmed that the greenfields fibre legislation would also go ahead.

The legislation aims to ensure new homes built at greenfield estates include infrastructure capable of connecting to the National Broadband Network.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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