ACCC's Samuels endorses Telstra break-up

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel today endorsed Telstra's structural separation.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel yesterday endorsed Telstra's structural separation, which has drawn strong criticism from the Liberals.

Speaking at the ATUG 2009 Regional Conference in Canberra yesterday, Samuel gave the thumbs up to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's plans to separate Telstra's wholesale and retail networks.

ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel
(Credit: ACCC)

"The vertical integration of Telstra has been one of the most substantial regulatory issues facing the Australian telecommunications industry. It has significantly constrained competition," he said.

"As the government moves to implement its announcement, now is the time to get the ground rules right on structure, to support robust competition in the sector in the coming decades."

"Now is the time to get the ground rules right on structure, to support robust competition in the sector in the coming decades," said Samuels.

The comments came as telecommunications industry submits proposals for telco industry regulatory reform on 3 June.

"We have a unique opportunity to redefine the telecommunications industry, but hard work will be required to get the settings right," said Samuel.

Samuel's comments, however, have drawn strong criticism from Shadow Minister for Communications Nick Minchin who said that he had "overstepped the mark".

"With great respect to Mr Samuel, I think he's overstepping the mark quite frankly. He is the regulator, not a policy maker and he has the job of regulating the industry. If he wants to change his focus, then perhaps he should consider standing for parliament," said Minchin.