The majority voted against amendments introduced by Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull, which means that they were unsuccessful. Mr Turnbull explained that these amendments related to merit review and procedural fairness.(Read Mr Turnbull's full explanation and the associated debate here, after 6:35 pm. )
Background to the bill
This bill was introduced following the lapse of the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009 and relates to the regulation of consumer protection, competition and licensing in telecommunications markets. While substantially the same as the earlier bill, it includes some additional provisions.
According to the bills digest, significant changes made by this bill include:
- improving the conditions for competition in telecommunications markets by requiring Telstra to be structurally or functionally separated
- making the telecommunications access regime less susceptible to deliberate delay and obstruction
- removing a technical impediment to the operation of the anti-competitive conduct regime applying to telecommunications markets
- clarifying the universal service obligation (USO) and customer service guarantee (CSG) to make it more enforceable
- extending the obligation to provide priority assistance to those with life threatening conditions to service providers other than Telstra, and
- enabling breaches of civil penalty provisions - including some concerning the USO and the CSG - to be dealt with by issuing infringement notices.(More information about the bill is available in its bills digest.)
With these measures, the bill seeks to address the issues that result from the monopoly caused by Telstra's vertically and horizontally integrated telecommunications network.