Aust govt tables bill to split Telstra

Dylan Bushell-Embling
21 Oct 2010

The Australian government has tabled into parliament the bill to split Telstra and pave the way for its participation in the NBN project.

The bill would allow for the structural separation of Telstra's retail wing from the rest of the company and strengthen restrictions on anti-competitive conduct, prime minister Julia Gillard announced Wednesday.

The government – which holds power with the support of independents – has called on the opposition to ensure swift passage of the bill. “Liberals and Nationals must support this legislation if they are serious about improving competition in the telecommunications market,” Gillard and communications minister Stephen Conroy said in a joint statement.

Passage of the bill had been blocked in the Senate by the Coalition prior to the August election.

But the minority government may still have difficulty passing the bill through parliament.

While the Liberal-National opposition said it supports the bill in principle, communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull yesterday plans to introduce his own bill that would force a cost-benefit analysis on the NBN.

Telstra supports the bill and backs the government’s call for its smooth passage through parliament.

Under the proposed agreement between Telstra and the government, Telstra would split into wholesale and retail arms and allow access to its ducts to the NBN project in exchange for A$11 billion ($10.84b) in compensation.

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