Conroy: Telstra share price not my fault

Summary:Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy today rejected any claim that Telstra's share price, which has fallen below $3 per share, is the fault of the government.

Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy today rejected any claim that Telstra's share price, which has fallen below $3 per share, is the fault of the government.

"I'm not sure why [Telstra shareholders] can blame the government's draft Bill when their share price fell bellow $3 before the Bill was issued," said Conroy. "I'm not sure whether shareholders had forward knowledge. I think [the Bill] was fairly closely held."

Last week the Conroy released the government's draft National Broadband Network (NBN) legislation, which outlined that the NBN Co could, under ministerial discretion, sell retail services to a separate entity, placing it in direct competition with Telstra and other telcos.

Telstra sent a letter to shareholders this morning which raised alarm over the government's possible intentions.

"Although it is only draft legislation, it raises for the first time the prospect of NBN Co becoming a government-funded retailer, not just a wholesale network provider," Telstra chief David Thodey and chairman Catherine Livingstone said.

Telstra's stock is currently trading at about $2.90 a share — well down from $3.43 on 1 January.

"[Telstra] felt they had to react to shareholders to point out what was on the front page of a range of newspapers last week," Conroy said of the letter issued by Thodey and Livingstone.

Conroy declined to comment on what kind of telecommunication services he had in mind for the NBN Co to offer when the legislation was written. "It's a draft for comment," he said.

"We're awaiting to see what the commentary is on that. I know there are some people out there commenting this is a good thing. There are those out there commenting it is a bad thing. We put this draft legislation out specifically — specifically — to get industry comment. This is not a piece of legislation we have announced that is going into parliament. This is a piece of legislation we put out there for comment."

AAP contributed to this article

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Government : AU, Telcos, Telstra

About

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, s... Full Bio

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