Monday 1 October 2007
Labor has been silent on CDMA and now we know why
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Senator the Hon Helen Coonan said the Labor Party has revealed why it has not said one word publicly on the transition from CDMA to Next G – Labor doesn’t support a licence condition that will protect regional Australia.
“Not only will Labor abolish the $2 billion regional Communications Fund to finance a commercial network in metropolitan areas, but now Labor will be prepared to sit back and potentially leave hundreds of thousands of thousands of regional mobile phone users stranded if Telstra’s Next G network does not provide adequate replication of CDMA coverage and services.
“Until now Labor has been silent on this important national network transition, but yesterday and today Labor’s communications spokesman Stephen Conroy declared that a licence condition will ‘impose costs on Telstra which provided no meaningful consumer benefit’ and that the initiative ‘actually doesn’t help consumers’.
“This is further evidence that Labor cannot stand up to Telstra on even basic consumer safeguards and that is why Telstra wants Labor elected. But what will this mean for consumers and competition in Australia?
“The Australian Government’s position on CDMA is clear. We want to ensure that regional and remote Australia is not left high and dry when the CDMA network is switched off.
“To do that we have imposed a license condition holding Telstra to their own promise that the network will not be turned off until the new Next G network provides as good or better coverage and services.
“Telstra and Labor should have nothing to fear from a safeguard holding Telstra to its public commitments that the Next G network will provide equivalent or better coverage and services.
Senator Coonan said if these commitments are met then Telstra can switch off the CDMA network on their preferred date, but if the coverage and service audits show that the commitments have not been met then Telstra will have to keep the CDMA network on longer.
“When it comes to making the tough decisions, Labor does not have what it takes to stand up for the best interests of Australian consumers. They either say ‘me too’, stay silent altogether or tag along behind a special interest group like the unions or Telstra.
“For the millions of Australians living in rural and regional Australia, ask yourselves whether a Rudd Labor Government will look after your interests. Labor holds very few seats in regional areas and they are only interested in servicing metropolitan areas. This is made clear by their cynical broadband policy which will roll out a network by 2013 leaving 3 million premises abandoned.
“A vote for Labor at this year’s election is a vote for leaving regional Australians stranded without new telecommunications services and higher retail prices in both metropolitan and regional areas.
“The Australian Government does not take the telecommunications needs of rural and regional Australia for granted. We will continue to work in their best interests to ensure that they get a mobile service that works,” Senator Coonan said.
Media Contact: Katherine Meier 0417 441 141