The Federal Government has pushed out new amendments to its stalled Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill in the wake of a Financial Heads of Agreement deal between Telstra and the NBN Co.
The amendments to the oft-delayed legislation, that would result in the separation of Telstra in some form, are said to strengthen consumer protections and reform regulation, and ensure the agreement has “legislative certainty”.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) would gain "clear mechanisms" to force Telstra to structurally separate, according to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and would "improve the current equivalence and transparency measures" to assist Telstra in planning the migration of its customers to the National Broadband Network (NBN).
Federal communications minister, Stephen Conroy, said the government remains "committed" to the bill.
“The government will be making a number of amendments to the Bill to provide Telstra with the legislative certainty it needs to proceed with structural separation, while still protecting the long-term interests of end-users," Conroy said in a statement.
"These amendments address a number of the key issues that have been raised with the Government since the Bill was introduced in September 2009".
Telstra chairman, Catherine Lingstone, said in a shareholder letter that it had received written confirmation from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that it would be able to bid for wireless spectrum; a threat the Government has used against the telco should it refuse to separate either structurally or functionally.