Carriers' group wants an end to Telstra subsidies

Telstra: as bad for your health as cigarettes.

The Competitive Carriers' Coalition (CCC) has called for an end to Telstra receiving taxpayer subsidies to invest in regional areas, stating that the practice directly harms competition.

Speaking at the ATUG (Australian Telecommunications Users Group) conference in Canberra yesterday, CCC executive director David Forman said.

Australia had an opportunity to create a lasting solution to the problems that had stopped competition taking root as intended when the industry was deregulated, but which has yet to happen.

Forman likened the current grip Telstra has on the telecommunications industry to the fact tobacco companies blithely ignored the adverse health effects from smoking - they simply did not accept there was an issue.

"Telstra on the issue of competition is like the tobacco companies on the health impact of smoking," Forman said.

"The tobacco companies dug in with the argument that no one had proven that smoking was bad for the health, therefore they didn't accept that there is a problem and therefore there is no need to do anything.

"Likewise, we continue to hear from Telstra that competition is fine."

Forman went on to say there is a broad agreement, even from the Nationals, that sustainable competition should be the primary goal of policy to lift the standard of services to all Australians.

"Eight years into deregulation and Telstra still has about 95 percent of the industry profit," Forman said.

"One thing we have never argued for is a straight handout, so it is more than a little repugnant to us that we have in HiBIS (higher bandwidth incentive scheme) yet another scheme that is pouring millions of dollars into the Telstra pocket."

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More about ATUGAustralian Telecommunications Users GroupCompetitive Carriers' CoalitionTelstra Corporation

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