NBN Bill passed, now for the loopholes

NBN Bill passed, now for the loopholes

Summary: This week MPs stayed back from holiday to pass two NBN Bills, including amendments passed from the Senate. It says a lot, but misses out even more.


This week MPs stayed back from holiday to pass two NBN Bills, including amendments passed from the Senate. It says a lot, but misses out even more.

You can't expect new legislation to become too prescriptive, especially in the changing world of telecommunications. That's why legislation like this will always be worded carefully so that what is not said is more important than what is said.

In today's Twisted Wire I look at what the NBN Bills stipulate and what's left out:

  • It seems clear now that a big company, if it arms itself with a carrier licence, could have a direct retail relationship with NBN Co.
  • There is still a lot of confusion around provisions to avoid cherry picking. You'll have to provide open access if you build last-mile fibre infrastructure, but what pricing restrictions will apply?
  • Despite the aim of pricing equity, NBN Co can discount prices and there seems little to suggest how this will be applied and controlled.
  • There is no requirement for NBN Co to offer more points of interconnect, even if local market conditions would suggest it was in the public interest.

To discuss these issues you'll hear from a variety of people in this week's Twisted Wire podcast:

  • Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher
  • Middleton's lawyer Mark Feetham
  • ACCAN senior policy advisor Jonathan Gadir
  • ATUG managing director Rosemary Sinclair
  • Monash University's Professor Stephen King

You can find Feetham's summary of the changes here.

Leave a comment below to give us your thoughts on the legislation, or leave a message on the Twisted Wire feedback line: 02 9304 5198. Your comments might be included in future editions of the program.

Running time: 29 minutes, 20 seconds

Topics: Government, Broadband, Government AU, NBN


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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  • If a big company 'arms itself with a carrier's licence', then it's legally a carrier and has the same rights and obligations as other carriers, including the form of relationship with NBN. Nothing new there.

    And Senator Fisher, like most other pollies, continues to sound somewhat lost about the tech details she is attempting to talk about. While politicians don't have to be tech experts, it's probably desirable for them to understand what they are talking about if they want us to take them seriously.
  • My thoughts on the legislation are this: Less talk more building. Bring on the fibre.
    Hubert Cumberdale