Friday, 29 November 2019 10:42

Labor claims govt going against stated policy with NBN tax Featured

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Labor shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland. Labor shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland. Supplied

Labor shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland claims the government's move to put in place a cost-recovery tax on networks that compete with the NBN directly contradicts the communications minister's statement that he favours competition in this field.

Minister Paul Fletcher introduced the legislation in Parliament on Thursday. It proposes a levy of $7 per month on every service connected to a non-NBN network, such as TPG’s fibre to the basement network.

In a statement, Rowland referred to a statement made by Fletcher in a speech to CEDA, in response to a query about the NBN: "We are going to need to rely on and boost competition to make sure that our fixed networks continue to upgrade and stay in tune with world developments.”

The NBN Co, the company building Australia's national broadband network, is struggling to balance its books, and is trying every tactic it can to take the average revenue per user to $52 in order to break even.

The company lost $1.1 billion in the first quarter of financial year 2020, while the ARPU stayed at $45. Total losses exceed $20 billion, with the network rollout to be completed in 2020.

Said Rowland: "The Bill... is a direct contradiction of that statement – it is a levy whose primary purpose is to reduce competition.

"No wonder the telecommunications industry is perplexed by the minister’s confused rhetoric on issues such as the role of NBN in enterprise and investment in competing networks.

“At a time of uncertainty, the last thing the industry needs is a minister who says one thing and then does another.”

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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