The coalition will oppose the Federal Government's telecommunications
reforms, introduced as part of its plan to build the $43 billion national
broadband network (NBN).
In a joint party room meeting on Tuesday, the coalition agreed the
legislation, which paves the way for the break-up of Telstra, should be
opposed in its current form.
The coalition will try first to defer consideration of the legislation until
the completion of an implementation study into the NBN project.
But, if unsuccessful with its deferral move, the coalition will try to
defeat the bill on its second reading in the Senate.
If it cannot get the necessary support to defeat the bill, the coalition
will move a range of "significant" amendments.
Telstra has also called for the legislation to be delayed.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last week said he was committed to
having the legislation debated and passed this year.
But opposition communications spokesman Nick Minchin said there was nothing
in the legislation that urgently required it to be debated and rushed
through the parliament by the end of this year.
"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," he said on Tuesday.
"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
The coalition was not opposed to "sensible" telecommunications reforms and
enhanced consumer safeguards, Senator Minchin said.
But the legislation in its current form also afforded new and almost
unfettered powers to the regulator, which should be carefully considered.
The NBN implementation study is not expected to be completed until next
"Therefore, it makes perfect sense to defer consideration of this
legislation until that time," Senator Minchin said.
"The government should use the coming months to engage in proper and
undistorted commercial negotiations with Telstra about the NBN and the