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The Federal Coalition will attempt to amend the Gillard Government’s legislation on setting up the National Broadband Network to – among other things – make it easier to sell the network before it is completed; plug loopholes that would see NBN creeping into the retail space; and end a supposed restraint on competition that prevents other groups from setting up rival networks, Opposition spokesman Malcolm Turnbull told the House of Representatives yesterday.

It would also seek to make NBN Co subject to Freedom of Information laws, Turnbull said.

The Opposition spokesman on NBN matters was opening debate on the National Broadband Network Companies Bill, and Telecommunications Amendment (NBN Access Arrangements) Bill, introduced by Labor in the dying days of the last Parliament.

With legislation to establish the Government’s flood levy still being drafted, they were the first major pieces of legislation to come before the House in the current session. Turnbull is hoping to enlist some of the independent MPs to back his amendments.

On retail creep, he said the Coalition would propose amendments ending the right of NBN Co to sell services directly to utility companies – “electricity utilities, water utilities, sewerage utilities, transport utilities and others”.

If this happened, he said, all major corporate customers would also seek to cut out “middlemen”retail service providers and deal direct with NBN Co, which would become in effect a retail telco for large institutions, “creeping further and further into the retail turf” of other privately owned telcos.

“We intend to hold the Government to account there,” said Turnbull.

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