Labor disputes call charge findings

TELECOMMUNICATIONS prices have fallen 9.2 per cent between 1998 and 2000, a report by Australia’s top competition watchdog has found.

Communications Minister Richard Alston said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report, tabled in Federal Parliament last week, proved the success of the Government’s policies.

“This latest report by the ACCC clearly demonstrates that the Government’s open and competitive telecommunications policy is benefiting all Australian consumers,” Senator Alston said.

The report found the cost of local calls dropped by 9.6 per cent between 1998 and 2000. Mobile services charges were reduced by 12.6 per cent and prices for long distance calls dropped by 9.7 per cent.

However, benefits to rural areas were not as great as those to capital cities.

The cost of all telecommuni-cation services had dropped 10.7 per cent in the bush compared with 11.9 per cent in the city.

Opposition Communications spokesman Stephen Smith criticised the report, saying it

did not cover the period since

the introduction of the GST.

“While the Howard Government predicted that the GST would only increase the price of communi-cations services by 4.7 per cent, the GST actually saw prices for communications services increase by 8.1 per cent in the September 2000 quarter,” Mr Smith said.

“As a result, communications services in the March 2000 quarter were more expensive than at any time since the December quarter of 1998.”

Mr Smith said the figures did not take into account the increase of line rental charges announced by Telstra earlier this year.

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