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Labor initiates broadband inquiry.

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Lindsay Tanner MP

Shadow Minister for Communications

Senator Kate Lundy

Shadow Minister for Information Technology


Labor initiates broadband Inquiry

Labor has proposed a senate inquiry into the state of broadband competition in Australia.

Labor is supported by the Democrats in calling for the Senate Environment, Communications Information Technology and the Arts References Committee to inquire into the following issues: • the current and prospective levels of competition in broadband services,

including interconnection and pricing in both the wholesale and retail markets; • any impediments to competition and to uptake of broadband technology; and • the implications of communications technology convergence on competition

in broadband and other emerging markets.

Labor is very concerned about the state of broadband competition in Australia. In particular, we believe that Telstra’s actions are causing severe disruption to its operation.

The importance of this inquiry was underlined by the ACCC report, “Emerging Market Structures in the Communications Sector”, which addresses Australia’s uncompetitive communications regime. The report, which has been ignored by the Minister, noted that Telstra’s control over the copper and cable network was a factor:

“Telstra is in a position to largely dictate the type of services that consumers will be able to access and the time at which these services become available.”

Labor has called for this inquiry because the rollout of broadband to Australia is crucial to our social and economic development, whether it is for regional residents accessing Government services, health, education, or small businesses accessing foreign markets.

ACCC figures published last week show that broadband growth, already starting from a small base, is in a trough, while Australia is ranked at 19th in the OECD in terms of broadband penetration.

Under the Howard Government’s flagging telecommunications competition regime, broadband take-up in Australia is slowing. Broadband users suffer from high prices and download caps, not to mention poor infrastructure.

Labor wants to ensure that the Government is accountable for the mess it has created, and hopes that this inquiry will present some solutions.

Media contacts: Peter van Vliet: (02) 6277 4428 or 0408 188 055 (Office of Lindsay Tanner MP) Jason Ives: (02) 6277 3334 0r 041 123 7683 (Office of Senator Kate Lundy)