Coalition demands amendments to Telstra bill
The coalition has agreed to support the government's plan to split Telstra into retail and wholesale companies, but at a price.
The Liberals and the Nationals have agreed to support the government's plan to break up telecommunications giant Telstra, but have a few amendments they want to make to the proposed reforms.
Shadow Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, said the government must remove 'gun at the head' provisions that threaten Telstra with losing access to the next-generation wireless spectrum.
In addition, the Coalition said it would only support the reforms if the government agreed to abandon its rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) through a government-owned monopoly, and instead hand over control to the ACCC, which would set prices likely to generate a return on investment.
The NBN should also be subject to the Competition & Consumer Act (formerly the Trade Practices Act), the Opposition said.
Separation of Telstra into wholesale and retail companies is a crucial part of the government's telecommunications strategy.
Stephen Conroy, Minister for Communications, responded to the proposed amendments by urging the Opposition to "actually read the bill".
Telstra will not be banned from the acquisition of spectrum and there will be scrutiny from the ACCC, Mr Conroy said.
"Malcolm Turnbull has been briefed by my Department on the bill so he knows his amendments are unnecessary," Mr Conroy said.
"The Opposition are only interested in delaying and obstructing the bill."
The Coalition's alternative to the NBN is a mixture of existing technologies and some fibre optic cables, with all Australians accessing at least 12Mbps. The government wants to roll out fibre-to-the-home with speeds of 100Mbps or more to 93% of the population, with improved satellite and wireless technologies covering the remainder.