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Happy birthday, telecommunications competition! (1 July)



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Happy Birthday, Telecommunications Competition! (1 July)

Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary since the Howard Government introduced full competition to Australian telecommunications.

Since full competition was introduced on 1 July 1997, the number of telecommunications companies has grown from three to 89.

According to the most recent figures published by the ACCC (overleaf), competition has benefited consumers and small business by reducing call prices by an average 24.8%. Fixed to mobile call prices have fallen 13.3%, mobile call prices have fallen 27.4%, local call prices have fallen 29.1%, long distance call prices have fallen 29.6% and international call prices have fallen 61.2%.

In arguing the benefits of competition, Senator Alston asked: 'How many other goods and services have had such a fall in price in recent years?'

According to an independent report by the Allen Consulting Group, commissioned by the Australian Communications Authority, competition led to consumer benefits of between $595 and $878 per household in 2001-02 and to $900 million in increased profits per year for small business.

Competition in telecommunications has also been a boon to Australia's economy. According to the Allen Consulting report, Australia's economy is $10 billion larger and there are 100,000 additional jobs as a result of telecommunications competition.

'Competition in telecommunications is the ultimate case study in how economic reform and modernisation are of clear benefit to Australia's economy and to Australians. It stands on a pedestal with waterfront reform, industrial relations reform, tax reform and rescuing the Federal Budget from deficit and debt as hallmark achievements of the Howard Government,' said Senator Alston.

'While the Coalition has an made unprecedented commitment to consumer safeguards and to funding new services, particularly in regional Australia, it is ultimately competition that is the most important driver of technological advancement, improved services and value for money for consumers.

'The Coalition has demonstrated its willingness to enhance the competition regime as the need arises and these changes are resulting in greater transparency and lower benchmark interconnect prices.

'The bad old days of an unresponsive, technologically backward and stodgy government

owned monopoly have been left behind. Australia can look forward to further ongoing improvements in telecommunications, largely thanks to competition. On behalf of the Coalition Government, I say "Happy Birthday" to competition and wish it many more to come.'

Media contact: David Quilty, 02 6277 7480 or 0419 421 803 Website: www.richardalston.dcita.gov.au

107/03 30 June 2003