Telstra structural separation bill to be tabled today

Telstra separation bill was not discussed with Greens or independent MPs, PM Julia Gillard says

Telstra’s structural separation is again on the cards with the Federal Government signalling it will make a second attempt to re-introduce its bill to facilitate the split today.

Signalling the move on ABC television last night, Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, claimed the bill was a “key microeconomic reform” and pushed for Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, and communications minister, Malcom Turnbull, not to oppose the bill.

“We will be pursuing it and it becomes a question, really, for Mr Abbott and for Mr Turnbull as to whether they will stand in the way of this key microeconomic reform, which of course will be better for businesses, better for customers and enable the further development of the national broadband network,” Gillard said.

“And of course, since the legislation was last in the Parliament, we have entered an agreement with Telstra - and that is very significant - an agreement with Telstra which is about the delivery of the National Broadband Network and Telstra's customer base using the national broadband network.”

When questioned over the timing of the bill’s reintroduction, Gillard claimed the Government was determined to “get on with the job of delivering the National Broadband Network”.

“If Mr Abbott is determined to wreck that well I think we should have that made clear through how votes are exercised in the Parliament,” Gillard said.

The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009, was last scheduled for discussion on May 12.

At the time a spokesperson for the Senate Table office at the Australian Parliament House confirmed that it had been delayed, but could not say whether it would be re-tabled..

Gillard said the Government had not consulted with the Greens — which hold the balance of power in the Senate — or independent MPs — which hold the balance of power in the House of Representatives — on the bill ahead of its planned re-introduction to the Lower House.

“Well, what we will do obviously is we'll introduce the legislation,” she said. “Then we will go through our processes where we will discuss with the Greens and the independents the legislation and seek views.

“But I think it's very, very well known that the independents and the Greens have been strong supporters of the National Broadband Network.”

As reported by Computerworld Australia the National Broadband Network (NBN) emerged as a deciding factor in the make up of the current Australian Government following the election with Independent MP Bob Katter, strongly praising Labor for the national infrastructure project, despite siding with the Coalition.

Independent MP Tony Windsor also went on the record to say he had been convinced of the veracity of Labor's $43 billion plan.

New England MP, Rob Oakshott, has also backed the NBN

“Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor — both from regional communities — have been strong supporters because they understand the power of this technology to get services to their communities that the tyranny of distance has prevented them having great access to date - Health services, education services, that will be transformed by the national broadband network as well as enabling their local businesses to literally be connected with the markets of the world,” Gillard added.

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