Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Government needs to urgently advise industry on the cost of the Universal Service Obligation.



Download WordDownload Word

image

 

MEDIA STATEMENT

Stephen Smith MP

Member for Perth

Shadow Minister for Communications

 

30 July 1999

45/99

 

GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO URGENTLY ADVISE INDUSTRY ON THE COST OF THE UNIVERSAL SERVICE OBLIGATION

 

 

Shadow Minister for Communications, Stephen Smith, t oday called on Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, to urgently advise Australia’s telecommunications industry of the Government’s intentions in respect of the cost of the Universal Service Obligation (USO).

 

Today the Australian Communications Authority released a figure of $580.2 million as an assessment of the cost of the USO.

 

“Earlier this year, the Opposition supported Government legislation which capped the cost of the USO at $253.32 million for the 1997/98 financial year, as compared with Telstra’s cost recovery claim of over $1.8 billion for that financial year”, Mr Smith said.

 

“The Opposition supported the legislation because Labor believed bipartisan support for the legislation was important to ensure certainty in Australia’s telecommunications industry and certainty for the operation of the USO.

 

“The Government’s legislation also provides for the Minister for Communications, subject to Parliamentary disallowance, to cap the cost of the USO for the 1998/99 and 1999/2000 financial years if required”, Mr Smith said.

 

“The Minister must now indicate to the industry what he proposes to do for the 1998/1999 and 1999/2000 financial years”, Mr Smith said.

 

“The rationale for capping Telstra’s cost recovery claim for the 1997/98 financial year at $253 million, in the face of Telstra’s $1.8 billion claim, was industry certainty. Industry certainty now demands that the Minister advise what approach he proposes to adopt for those years where he now has a legislatively enacted Ministerial discretion”, Mr Smith said.

 

“As well, I am sure the market will regard this information, on its face a $330 million per financial year difference, as market sensitive information relevant to the forthcoming 16.6% Telstra privatisation”, Mr Smith said.

 

“On that basis alone, the Minister needs to publicly advise what he proposed to do”, Mr Smith concluded.

 

 

Media Contact: Stephen Smith (08) 9377 3355

 

 

al  1999-08-02  10:40