The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

7 April 2009

NO.037

Joint Media Release
with
Prime Minister
Minister for Finance
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

Regulatory Reform for 21st Century Broadband

Today, the Rudd Government has released a Regulatory Reform discussion paper to seek public comment on ways to improve telecommunications regulations to make it work more effectively in the interest of consumers and businesses.

The existing regime needs to be reformed to improve competition and strengthen consumer safeguards, as well as remove redundant and inefficient red tape. A vibrant, competitive telecommunications sector is important for delivering lower prices, better quality and more innovative services for consumers and businesses.

"The Regulatory Reform paper I am releasing today seeks views on the options the Government will consider for reform of the existing regime to make it work more effectively, particularly during the rollout of the NBN", said the Minister for Broadband. Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy.

A wide range of stakeholders, including telecommunications carriers and consumer groups, have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the current regime.

The Regulatory Reform paper canvasses a range of options for reform, including:

  • streamlining current regulatory processes, by allowing the ACCC to set up-front access terms for companies wanting access to Telstra and other networks;
  • strengthening the powers of the ACCC to tackle anti-competitive conduct by allowing it to impose binding rule of conduct when issuing competition notices;
  • promoting greater competition across the industry, including through measures to better address Telstra's vertical and horizontal integration, such as functional separation
  • addressing competition and investment issues arising from cross-ownership of fixed-line and cable networks, and telecommunications and media assets;
  • improving universal access arrangements for telephony and payphones; and
  • introducing more effective rules, requiring telephone companies to make connections and repairs within set time-frames.

The Government is seeking submissions by 3 June 2009, before making final decisions and introducing legislation into the Parliament.

The Government does not favour any specific reform option. It is, however committed to ensuring that the regulatory framework in this sector is effective in promoting the long term interests of end-users, without imposing any unnecessary burdens on business.

Copies of the Regulatory Reform discussion paper and further information on the enhanced National Broadband Network are available at www.dbcde.gov.au/nationalbroadbandnetwork

7 April 2009