The Government is facing an uphill battle over its plans to separate Telstra, with the Coalition ruling out support for the bill in the Senate.
“Labor’s legislation is a deliberate assault on Telstra and its 1.4 million shareholders and 30,000 employees,” Shadow Minister, Tony Smith, said in a statement.
"Telstra shareholders have every reason to be outraged by Labor’s plans to force the break-up of the company.
“Labor’s attempt to force the break up of Telstra is all about trying to prop up their reckless $43 billion NBN.”
The Opposition’s decision comes after it was accused of delay tactics by Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.
“After doing nothing for 11½ years the Opposition are wilfully and deliberately blocking measures designed to fix problems with the existing telecommunications regulatory framework,” Minister Conroy said in a statement.
In a March letter to shareholders, Telstra said the issue of the senate vote could not be separated entirely from the ongoing negotiations.
“We have always said this legislation is likely to destroy shareholder value and makes an agreement with NBNco and the Government harder to achieve,” it said.
Ovum research director, David Kennedy, said the latest delays would weaken the Government’s side of the negotiation by forcing it to abide by requests from cross-bench senators for more information on the NBN.
“For the Opposition to make this declaration strengthens the hand of the Green and the Independents in the Senate,” he said. “They will be in a position to require more information from the Government…in comparison to what happened in the 1997 telco reforms, there’s been little consultation or time to consider the implications.
“It’s not surprising senators will want to take a rather close look at this legislation and hear from the industry and the community.”
In a Q&A with ARN in February, Australian Greens communications spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, expressed similar concerns and indicated a need for more information and discussions.
“The big problem I guess is that we don’t even know what the bill we’re amending at the moment is because negotiations have been going on behind the scenes. I’m not necessarily sure that when we finally do see a bill presented in Parliament, that it’s going to look much like the one we were talking about last year.”