Telco rivals claim legislative urgency

In a joint statement released this morning, telcos iiNet, Internode, Macquarie Telecom, Netspace, Optus, Primus, TransACT and VHA have voiced their support for legislation paving the way for the separation of larger competitor Telstra.

In a joint statement released this morning, telcos iiNet, Internode, Macquarie Telecom, Netspace, Optus, Primus, TransACT and VHA have voiced their support for legislation paving the way for the separation of larger competitor Telstra.

Members of Parliament and the Senate were urged by the telcos to stand behind the Telecommunications Amendment (Competition and Consumer Protection) Bill and not delay its passage.

The statement released comes in light of the Coalition's plans to delay the legislation until after the implementation study into Labor's $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN).

The telcos instead urged Parliament to realise Labor's plans sooner rather than later. In the statement they stated: "The cost of delay is real, immediate and an impost on all Australians. Delaying the passage of the legislation until next year would mean benefit would not flow until 2011 at the earliest."

Also stated by the telcos was support for increased government involvement in regulating the industry: "The telecommunications sector is presently governed by a set of regulatory arrangements that have long been seen as fundamentally flawed because they have been unable to control or reduce the historic market power of Telstra. The present legislative package is the first comprehensive attempt to resolve that market power problem and place all telecommunications retailers on a fair playing field."

Telstra has opposed all amendments, including both its proposed voluntary separation and Labor's plans for forced separation, asserting that a break-up of the company would reduce competition, hurt its shareholders and divert resources away from the NBN.

Following the Bill's passage through the lower house yesterday, it will move to the Senate, where Labor will need to persuade independents such as Nick Xenophon and Steven Fielding to support plans if they are to get the Bill through without the Coalition's proposed delay.

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