Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan yesterday defended Australia's national telecommunications regulatory regime.
"Despite loud cries to the contrary, we do not regulate for regulation's sake," she told the annual conference of the Australian Telecommunications Users Group in Sydney. "We regulate to protect consumers and to ensure they have affordable access to essential telco services. It really is as simple as that."
The nation's largest telco Telstra recently launched a grassroots campaign to wind back regulation in the telecommunications industry. But Coonan said Telstra wasn't special and that Australia's regime was not that different from that found in other countries.
"Australia is by no means a lone wolf when it comes to applying an access regime to bottleneck infrastructure ... And despite public assertions to the contrary, the access regime applies to all network owners, not just Telstra," the minister said. "Optus, Vodafone and Hutchison are all currently subject to regulation under the access regime."
"It is highly unlikely that Australia is going to go out on a limb and become the only major country in the OECD to simply abolish telco-specific competition regulation as both Telstra and now the Labor Party are advocating."
Eds note: In this video, ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel takes Telstra to task for not switching on high-speed ADSL2+ broadband nationwide.