The Federal Opposition has confirmed it will vote against wide-ranging legislation being introduced by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to reform the telecommunications sector, including the break-up of Telstra’s wholesale and retail divisions.
Conroy’s last attempt to introduce the Telecommunications Legislation Amentment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards ) Bill into the Senate was shot down in flames several weeks ago, but at the time the Greens — who the Government will now need to get the bill across the line — had signalled their readiness to debate it.
The legislation is listed on the Senate run-sheet for today. In a statement yesterday, shadow Communications Minister Tony Smith (pictured) described the legislation as a “deliberate assault” on Telstra, its 1.4 million shareholders and 30,000 employees.
“As we’ve said from day one, Telstra shareholders have every reason to be outraged by Labor’s plans to force the break-up of the company,” said Smith. “The Coalition has never advocated the forced break up of Telstra and this was never part of Labor’s plan before the last election.”
The politician said the Telstra break-up attempt was “all about trying to prop up” the Government’s “reckless” $43 billion National Broadband Network plan — which he said the Government had embarked upon without a cost-benefit analysis or a business plan.
“This bully boy legislative attack on Telstra and its shareholders is an admission that their NBN isn’t commercially viable.”
Smith called for Conroy to release both the NBN implementation study as well as the final legislation relating to the NBN Company, which has so far only been released in draft form.
On February 24, Conroy’s office confirmed he had not yet received the implementation study, which is being put together by consulting firms McKinsey and KPMG, despite the fact that it was due in February.
The implementation study was originally slated to determine the operating arrangements for the NBN Company, as well as detailing network design and financial details — for example, attracting private sector investment.
Image credit: Office of Tony Smith