In documents filed with an Australian Senate committee last Friday, dominant state telecom operator Telstra fought back against a proposed bill that would impose structural separation requirements on the carrier, warning that the plan is likely to destroy shareholder value and create uncertainties surrounding the future deployment of Australia’s US $38.8 billion national broadband network (NBN). At the urging of rivals who contend that Telstra’s network access policies are anticompetitive, Australian Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy Minister Steven Conroy said last month that, unless Telstra agrees to split itself voluntarily by the end of this year, the government would pursue legislation that would force Telstra to separate its wholesale and retail network operations and to offer wholesale network access on the same terms and conditions given to Telstra’s retail customers. Supporters of Conroy’s plan also contend that a functional separation of Telstra would enable Telstra and its competitors to participate in the NBN initiative on a more equal footing. In a press statement accompanying his company’s submission to the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts, Telstra CEO David Thodey proclaimed that, “while Tesltra continues to support the government’s vision for the NBN, we believe that this bill is unnecessary and makes it harder for the government to achieve its objectives for the NBN.” Among other things, Telstra told the Senate committee that the plan would (1) reduce competition, “especially in the mobile and media markets,” (2) harm consumers, “particularly those in rural and remote Australia,” (3) provide the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission with “unparalleled” expanded powers, and (4) cost more than A$1 billion to implement. While affirming that Telstra remains in talks with the government over the company’s role in establishing the NBN, Thodey emphasized, “we can only agree to proposals that represent fair value to shareholders and which protect the interests of our employees and customers.” As such, Thodey asserted that that Telstra “has no choice but to oppose the passage of the bill in its current form.” In the event the government proceeds with legislation that would mandate Telstra’s break-up, Thodey urged the Senate to “delay debate until after the conclusion of constructive discussions between Telstra and the government” with respect to the NBN.