ACCC wants final say on NBN, Telstra

By Ry Crozier on Oct 25, 2010 1:40 PM
Filed under Strategy

Sees off potential court intervention.

ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel has outlined the competition regulator's desire to have final say on undertakings submitted by Telstra and NBN Co, without facing the prospect of court appeals.

Speaking on ABC Radio National Breakfast, Samuel attempted to clarify comments made by opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull to ABC Lateline last week. Turnbull had suggested that proposed legislation put forward by the Government "exempted [the NBN] from the provisions of the Trade Practices Act."

Samuel said the ACCC - which enforces this act - would not be exempt from studying these undertakings.

"If you examine the legislation carefully, I don't think that the NBN is subject to exemption from ACCC examination," Samuel said.

"We have to look at all aspects of the NBN in terms of the structural separation undertaking that Telstra will provide to us and also in terms of the special access undertaking that is going to be provided to us by NBN Co."

Samuel said the undertakings would be subjected to "very rigorous examination" to ensure competition over several decades.

"It is not until the ACCC has completed its examination of those access undertakings that any form of exemption comes in, and I think you'll find that the exemption is very limited indeed," he said.

"What it essentially says is [that] once the ACCC is opined on this matter, that ought to be the end of it.

"It should not be subject to any form of gaming, if you like, by seeking to have it taken on review to various tribunals and courts up the line."

That was "ultimately a matter of policy for the Government", he said, referring to the Federal Government's attempts to see draft laws pass through parliament after they were re-introduced last week.

The shadow cabinet and Liberal party was due to convene this week to discuss the proposed legislation, according to Turnbull.

Turnbull had already indicated he, personally, would back the structural separation of Telstra, although it was unclear whether or not he was speaking for the broader Coalition.

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ACCC wants final say on NBN, Telstra
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