Don't let the regulators handicap Telstra: Ziggy

Telstra's outgoing chief executive Ziggy Switkowski will plead for the telecommunications giant not to be 'handicapped' before its expected privatisation later this year.In a speech to be delivered at the Trans-Tasman Business Awards in Sydney tonight, Switkowski will say that although the company supports a regulatory review, it is not in favour of any 'exotic restructuring' or more 'bureaucratic processes'.

Telstra's outgoing chief executive Ziggy Switkowski will plead for the telecommunications giant not to be 'handicapped' before its expected privatisation later this year.

In a speech to be delivered at the Trans-Tasman Business Awards in Sydney tonight, Switkowski will say that although the company supports a regulatory review, it is not in favour of any 'exotic restructuring' or more 'bureaucratic processes'.

Switkowski said that "Telstra welcomes a regulatory review on its merits -- not as a pre-privatisation last minute opportunity to handicap Telstra".

Additionally, he will reiterate that Telstra's does not "anticipate new layers of restrictive regulation or invite exotic restructuring of the company... nor with the addition of significant new obligations and bureaucratic processes".

Switkowski is worried that between now and the presentation of the Telstra Sale Bill, which is expected later this year, the company's competitors and regulators will "see this period as an opportunity to demand wide ranging changes to Telstra".

According to Switkowski, the Australian telecommunications industry is already over-regulated, which is removing incentives to increase investment.

"Telstra is already the most regulated company in Australia from an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) perspective. In Australia, the current regulatory framework is dampening the incentives to invest in new infrastructure. Heavy handed regulation designed to drive down prices, while popular in the short term, is coming home to roost,' said Switkowski.

However, Switkowski will outline that a relatively deregulated telecommunications industry, such as in New Zealand, can also be damaging.

"In New Zealand we have a telecommunications regulatory regime that is extremely light-handed and in Australia we have a regulatory regime that is comparatively heavy-handed by international standards. Both extremes are not good for consumers. In New Zealand, customers are enduring higher prices and enjoying less innovation than their counterparts in the rest of the developing world," said Switkowski.

"Can I remind you of the forest we are trying to nurture while others argue about the trees that might be harvested," added Switkowski.