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Telco Bill unlikely to get debated this week

The Federal Government's controversial legislation to reform the telecommunications sector is unlikely to get debated in the Senate this week, after Senate whips from each party last night met and decided they needed to debate Bills that hadn't been passed from yesterday.
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Written by Ben Grubb on

The Federal Government's controversial legislation to reform the telecommunications sector is unlikely to get debated in the Senate this week, after Senate whips from each party last night met and decided they needed to debate Bills that hadn't been passed from yesterday.

Stephen Conroy

Stephen Conroy
(Credit: NBN Tasmania)

As well as reforming the telecommunications sector, the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009 has offered Telstra a choice to voluntarily opt for structural separation or face an imposed functional separation coupled with tough sanctions, including a possible ban on acquiring spectrum for 4G wireless services.

Just after 11am today the Senate passed the first Bill on the list for Tuesday, the Tax Laws Amendment (2010 Measures No.1) Bill 2010.

With the Senate only sitting for three days this week — and today being the second of the three — the Bill is unlikely to get debated at all during the week's sittings, considering the backlog of other Bills listed for debate (four other Bills are now listed before it). Even if it were prioritised, the Greens Party has put forward amendments that could make it difficult to pass in the time remaining.

It was originally listed in the government's draft legislation program for debate today and was last on the list for debate. Not having the Bill debated this week would move the next opportunity for debate into June, the month Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has set as a deadline for the government's negotiations with Telstra on the terms under which it would move its customers and/or infrastructure into the National Broadband Network Company.

Stephen Conroy's office had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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