Senate report gives Telstra reform bill the thumbs up

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Senate report gives Telstra reform bill the thumbs up

Wants bill passed in full.

A Senate Committee inquiry into a bill proposing a massive "shake up" of the telecommunications sector has recommended the bill be passed in full, despite Coalition concerns it should be delayed.

The report into the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009 was tabled in parliament at 7:30pm last night.

“The committee believes that the bill in its current form provides important and timely reforms to Australia's telecommunications regulatory regime that will be of benefit to providers and consumers," the report said.

The report dismissed concerns raised by dissenting Senators, including the Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin, that the bill be delayed until the results of the National Broadband Network (NBN) implementation study are known, stating "the regulatory regime will operate regardless of the results of that study".

“While further examination of issues ... is warranted, the committee believes that the passage of the bill should not be delayed," the report said

"The National Broadband Network should not be used as an excuse to delay reforms and to increase regulatory uncertainty".

Shareholder concerns

As for shareholder concerns, the committee would leave that up to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to address.

"The committee believes the government has recognised the concerns of stakeholders ... and is examining them carefully. The committee asks that the minister address these concerns during consideration of the bills in the Senate," the report said.

Senator Minchin branded the report as "quite inadequate".

"It's [a] very disappointing attempt to endorse what is quite a radical and unprecedented piece of legislation," Minchin told the Senate last night.

"It is our contention that the majority - in relation to this report - completely misrepresents the weight of evidence presented to the committee about this quite extraordinary piece of legislation.

"The numerical majority of these submissions made to this committee, I think, were ones that clearly were directed at the forced breakup of the company [Telstra] and their opposition to this extraordinary proposal," Minchin said.

Many of the submissions to the Senate inquiry came from Telstra shareholders expressing their concerns with the bill.


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