Telstra structural separation bill passes lower house

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The Government has struck a major coup in its communications policy when the bill that would separate Telstra’s wholesale arm – which provides the copper lines to other telecommunications companies and internet service providers – and its retail arm has passed the lower house.

The bill passed with no amendments, as the Opposition’s amendment by Malcolm Turnbull, the Opposition’s spokesperson for communication, was defeated. The bill passed with the support of by the Greens and Independents Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie. The other Independent, Rob Oakeshott, sided with the Liberals in opposing the bill.

It passed with a majority of one vote – as four people were absent from the vote.

The bill provides the legislative framework to allow the Government to acquire Telstra’s copper and cable networks as part of a deal with NBN Co in order to allow Telstra customers to migrate to the NBN when it is rolled out and assign new powers to the ACCC in order to regulate the structural separation.

The bill has to now be decided by the Senate before it is made into law.