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Telstra regulations a furphy.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA (05/457) WEDNESDAY 14 SEPTEMEBR 2005 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS DEPUTY LEADER

TELSTRA REGULATIONS A FURPHY The Telstra sale Bills will be hopelessly ineffectual in imposing any real constraint on Telstra’s conduct towards its competitors, according to Australian Democrats Deputy Leader Senator Andrew Bartlett.

"The Government are unleashing a giant horizontally and vertically integrated monopolistic company with grossly inadequate protections," Senator Bartlett said.

"It is proposed that the ACCC have little involvement in the operational separation process and no real penalty on Telstra for any contravention of this regime.

"It is absurd that not only can Telstra develop their own operational separation plan, but the Minister, and not the ACCC, will have the oversight. The Minister would be subject to lobbying by Australia’s second biggest company. This is highly inappropriate given the monopolistic position Telstra still maintains.

"Far from creating greater certainty and encouragement to invest, this Bill may actually result in several regulatory steps backward and an increase in retail prices.

"The 'future proofing' aspect of the Bill has been found to be inadequate. The commercial truth is that in many parts of regional and rural Australia competition cannot be sustained, and Telstra have made it clear they resent being forced to remain there.

"The Government's funding package is significantly less than what analysts estimate is needed, and there are no funds targeted to outer metropolitan areas. Senator Joyce has been manipulated and duped into thinking this is a great deal - $3.1 billion from a potential $30 billion is not a great deal!

"The Democrats will not be supporting the Telstra sale, but it is our duty to try and amend the competition, consumer and future proof Bills to address the concerns of the regulators, industry and consumers.

"The Government has today gagged debate allowing no time to discuss the merits of the amendments. Democracy has certainly left the building," concluded Senator Bartlett.

Media contact - Senator Bartlett 0418 743 789