Conroy: Coalition NBN bill edits "redundant"

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Conroy: Coalition NBN bill edits "redundant"

Read the bill, he says.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has criticised amendments proposed by the Coalition to the Government's Telstra split bill, labelling them "misguided" and several as "redundant".

The Coalition revealed its intention to move amendments following a joint party room discussion on Tuesday.

It demanded that NBN Co not be exempt from the Competition and Consumer Act (formerly the Trade Practices Act) - something the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Graeme Samuel had already said was not part of the proposed laws.

Conroy today backed Samuel's earlier clarification, saying Turnbull's repeated claims "that the agreement between Telstra and NBN Co will not be subject to ACCC scrutiny [was] wrong".

"The Bill already includes provision in section 577A for the ACCC to scrutinise and approve the competitive impacts of the agreement between Telstra and NBN Co. This agreement would need to be incorporated into the undertaking that Telstra lodges with the ACCC," Conroy said.

"The Bill authorises entering into the agreement and associated conduct for the purposes of trade practices law only if the ACCC accepts the undertaking.

"This removes any need for multiple authorisation inquiries, while still ensuring appropriate scrutiny of the arrangements."

The Coalition also called for amendments that would remove "gun at the head" provisions that it said threatened Telstra with losing the right to bid for future mobile spectrum "if it does not structurally separate in a way acceptable to the Government."

Conroy criticised the amendment as "redundant" and urged the Coalition to "actually read the bill."

"The bill no longer includes an automatic prohibition on the acquisition of spectrum if Telstra does not structurally separate and divest its interests in its HFC network and Foxtel," Conroy said.

"Malcolm Turnbull has been briefed by my Department on the bill so he knows his amendments are unnecessary.

"The Opposition are only interested in delaying and obstructing the bill."

The Coalition proposed two other amendments to the bill.

It wanted Parliament to be empowered to "disallow Ministerial directions to the ACCC regarding the NBN Co/Telstra deal".

And it wanted "merit reviews and procedural fairness [to be] restored... to the ACCC's enforcement of the new access pricing regime" under the NBN.

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