Coalition to try and delay Telstra separation bill

Shadow communications minister Nick Minchin says there is no urgent need to push forward with break up of telco giant

The coalition will try to delay any legislation that aims to force the structural separation of Telstra (ASX:TLS).

In a statement, shadow communications minister, Nick Minchin, said the Federal Government's plans to separate Telstra, which were announced a few weeks ago, should wait until the National Broadband Network (NBN) implementation study is completed and submitted to the government in February.

“This legislation is predominantly about the Government trying to force Telstra and its 1.4 million shareholders to prop up Labor’s $43 billion NBN project," Minchin said in the statement.

“It includes the outrageous provision to preclude Telstra from participating in future auctions for spectrum for higher capacity mobile broadband services, if it does not break itself up and divest its cable network and Foxtel interests.”

This week, Senator Stephen Conroy said the government hoped to get the legislation passed by the end of the year. However, the coalition is aiming to delay this and will seek amendments to any bill put forward. But they will need the support of independent senators Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon to succeed. Both senators are yet to announce their positions on the issue.

“The NBN implementation study is not expected to be completed until next February and hopefully at that time the Government will be able to provide a greater level of clarity in relation to what the future telecommunications landscape may look like," Minchin said.

“Therefore it makes perfect sense to defer consideration of this legislation until that time. The Government should use the coming months to engage in proper and undistorted commercial negotiations with Telstra about the NBN and the company’s structure."

Despite the Liberals calls to wait for the implementation study to be finished, it is understood the company responsible for rolling out the network, NBN Co, is already going ahead with decisions on the network and has been authorised to negotiate with companies like Telstra to buy infrastructure assets.

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Tags TelstraSenator Nick MinchinNational Broadband Network (NBN)

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