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Government ditches two pro-consumer telco reports as the Nats produce a third.



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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator John Cherry Democrats Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Communications

Dated: 17 March 2005 Press Release Number: 05/127 Portfolio: Communications

Government ditches two pro-consumer telco reports as the Nats produce a third

The Government has rejected Democrat and Labor amendments to make the communications regulators more pro-consumer despite the recommendations flowing from an all-party Senate Committee report and a consumer report commissioned by the Australian Communications Authority today.

Democrats Communications spokesperson Senator John Cherry said the rejection, on the very day that the National Party's Page Research Centre made its pitch for changes in telecommunications policy, shows the Government still in a 'state of denial' about communications policy.

"How many reports screaming at the Government that competition is inadequate, that prices are too high, and service standards too low, will it take before this Government stands up and takes notice, he said.

"The Page Centre report replicates similar recommendations made by a Senate Committee I chaired last year pointing to the lack of competition, the lack of investment in new network infrastructure and the lack of a pro-consumer regulatory system.

"The Government ignored the recommendations then. It ignored calls from the ACCC, the National Competition Council and even the OECD, to take steps to make telecommunications more competitive and pro-consumer by reducing Telstra's market power.

"It has refused today to accept Senate amendments endorsed in principle by its own Government senators, that the communications regulators need to be more pro-consumer.

"It continues to insist on holding Telstras excessive market power intact to maximise the price gained for selling Telstra, and maintaining the clearly inadequate 'light touch' regulatory system to give Telstra its best chance of gouging its customers.

"I wish the two incoming Senators luck in trying to persuade the Government to adopt a more pro-consumer, pro-competition and pro-investment telecommunications regulatory regime.

"But, as their Coalition colleagues in the Senate have consistently voted to defeat such efforts in the Senate as recently as today they will face a difficult task in trying to win the argument that communications policy should be about the interests of consumers, not the interests of Telstra shareholders," Senator Cherry concluded.