Untimed local call regulation to stay: Turnbull

Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed reports that the government is looking to remove requirements for telcos to offer untimed local calls.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has sharply rebuked a report from the Daily Telegraph on Monday that the Australian government is considering the removal of the regulation that forces telcos to offer untimed local calls to customers.

"There will be no change to that regulation at all," Turnbull told 3AW. "The requirement to offer untimed local calls will continue, there won't be any change there."

While Turnbull is supportive of the idea of removing regulation, he said that the move has been ruled out, as it offers no benefit to consumers and is not significant to the industry as a whole.

"I think it's one of those situations where the judgment has to be no, while we're against regulation -- you know, we would rather have fewer regulations than more -- in this case, it's not doing any harm, it's possibly doing some good, so it will stay," he said.

The Daily Telegraph reported that it had seen a briefing paper saying the government would consider removing the untimed local call regulation if industry could prove that its scrapping would be beneficial.

Turnbull cited changes to the Australian Do Not Call Register, making numbers that telemarketers are not allowed to call permanent, as an example of reduced regulation that was good for consumers.

"Untimed local calls are not as big a deal as they were many years ago because of course most packages have unlimited local and indeed national calls often," Turnbull said. "And of course, a lot of people call over the top using Skype or WhatsApp or whatever. So technology has moved on a bit."

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