Thursday, 24 November 2016 19:22

‘Sop to Telstra’ says CCC in angry reaction to proposed changes to anti-competitive telecoms laws Featured


Telecommunications competition law changes proposed by the federal government would "gut protections" from anti-competitive conduct by Telstra, and “fly in the face of almost universal opposition” from other telcos, according to the Competitive Carriers Coalition (CCC).

The CCC says the decision disregards submissions from competitors to the Department of Communications when it floated the idea months ago, and “was dropped today with Telstra apparently the only company given advance warning”.

“It would appear we have returned to the bad old days when the government acted as though Telstra was the telecommunications industry, and other opinions could be ignored,” CCC chairman Matt Healy said.

“It is an attitude that has resulted in Australia becoming a case study among OECD nations in exploited consumers and weak competition.”

Healy is dismissive of the government’s claims that the specific powers to allow quick action by the competition watchdog to prevent anti-competitive conduct are no longer necessary because competition “is much further advanced” than it was 20 years ago.

“This is news to the industry, which has watched Telstra’s market share — already completely out of step with incumbent telcos in the rest of the OECD — steadily increase in fixed broadband and mobile in recent years,” Healy says, adding that “this is in no small measure assisted by the billions of dollars the government agreed to hand over to Telstra to convince it to co-operate with the NBN rollout.”

The CCC says removing these “important parts” of the competition laws represent a “dangerous dilution of competition protections in communications markets, even if proposed strengthening of other parts of the general competition law get through the Parliament”.

“These issues were fully explained by the CCC and by others in submissions to the Department, but received no response until today,” Healy says.

“Competition Law should be guided by the on-the-ground experience and struggles of competitors, not dictated by monopolists.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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