Gladys Berejiklian is targeting new opposition in the form of telecom giants Telstra and TPG, while embracing her post-political role at her competitor Optus.
the previous NSW Premier joined Optus four months ago as Managing Director of Optus’ Corporate, Business and Institutional Division after her dramatic departure from politics last year.
Her sudden departure came following an inquiry into her behavior as a NSW leader launched by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Ms Berejiklian is now in the middle of a new fight as Optus trades hits with Telstra and TPG over their network-sharing deal.
Former NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) finds herself in a new battle with Telstra and TPG four months after her role at Optus
The deal will allow TPG to use about a third of Telstra’s 11,000 telecom towers in primarily regional areas across the country. In return, TPG will grant Telstra access to 169 telecommunications sites.
“Empowering the dominant player and incentivizing investment means you don’t have a resilient network, you don’t have a choice, you don’t have any alternatives,” Ms Berejiklian said in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald about the Telstra TPG deal.
The former Prime Minister shared her view that the deal, which she describes as a “merger”, would lead to a price hike and be detrimental to Australians in regional areas.
“We know that many of the benefits offered by the so-called Proposal Highlights do not cover the corporate sector, and we also know that there will be unintended implications for people having that choice when working from the regions, whether it is permanent or temporary.’
She added that the proposal would harm regulation and healthy competition in the industry.
“We don’t want 20 years of good regulation and competition to go backwards, and we want to invest like everyone else,” she said.
Optus has traded blows with Telstra and TPG over their network sharing deals. The deal gives TPG access to Telstra’s towers in regional areas and Telstra will be able to use 169 telecom sites (pictured an Optus store in Melbourne).
Ms Berejiklian’s view, shared by Optus colleagues, has been hotly contested by both Telstra and TPG.
A Telstra spokesman told Daily Mail Australia that the deal was “positive for regional Australia,” particularly because of “rapid demand” for data in regional areas.
Telstra said the deal will “unlock new cellular capacity” for many Aussies by “capturing underutilized spectrum in thousands of regional locations” and will also provide “new competition and choice” and greater connectivity.
“Optus’ only reason for opposing the deal is self-interest,” the spokesman said.
“It would rather protect its own position than support an innovative deal to create more capacity and competition in regional Australia.”
James Rickards, general manager of external affairs at TPG Telecom, claimed Optus “betrayed public trust and ran a panic campaign” over the deal.
“This is an infrastructure sharing agreement that will bring more choice and competition to regional Australia than ever before. Optus’ claim that this is a merger is misleading, false and contrary to the interests of regional Australians,” he said.
“The only reason Optus objects to this network sharing agreement is that it means more competition for them, not less.”
Mr. Rickards added that TPG agrees with the proposal to “support regional Australia” and “put competitive pressure on Telstra and Optus”.
Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will decide in October whether to go ahead with the network sharing proposal.
A Telstra spokesman told Daily Mail Australia Optus was opposed to the network-sharing deal out of “self-interest” (pictured, Telstra HQ in Melbourne).
Ms Berejiklian has no plans to return to politics anytime soon and says she “really enjoys” her leadership position at Optus.
The former Prime Minister abruptly resigned from office after the end of NSW’s last Covid-19 lockdown, after ICAC announced an inquiry into whether she breached public trust or engaged in corrupt behavior during her relationship with her former boyfriend, the disgraced ex-MP Daryl Maguire.
“My resignation as Prime Minister could not come at a worse time but the timing is completely out of my control as the ICAC has decided to take this action during the most challenging weeks of the most challenging times in NSW history,” Ms Berejiklian said at the time .
“Quitting at this point is against all instincts of my being and something I don’t want to do. I love my job and community service, but I was given no choice after the statement made.
ICAC has yet to share its findings from the hearing late last year.
Ms Berejiklian has not spent the last few months in the spotlight, turning down offers to break into federal politics before joining Optus in February.