Positive signs: Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Rob Homer
Mobile phone bills are set to fall on both sides of the Tasman after the Australian and New Zealand governments indicated they would honour a deal to crack down on exorbitant roaming charges.
Former prime minister Julia Gillard announced the trans-Tasman roaming agreement with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in February, with both leaders warning telcos to slash the sky-high charges faced by millions of travellers between the countries or face greater regulation.
The Australian Labor Party failed to legislate the changes before losing last month's election.
While stopping short of fully committing to the deal, new Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull indicated the government would honour the proposals - which included mandatory price caps on calls and data.
A spokesman said Mr Turnbull was consulting with his colleagues on the proposed arrangements with New Zealand.
''While this consultation is still ongoing, the government is viewing the proposed arrangements positively,'' he said.
New Zealand remains fully committed to the crackdown.
A new report in Australia has revealed the ''extraordinary'' and ''confusing'' array of roaming charges consumers now face.
''Legislation is being drafted for introduction early next year,'' a spokesman for New Zealand Communications Minister Amy Adams said.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network welcomed Mr Turnbull's apparent willingness to honour the deal and said it would like to see similar action arranged with other countries.
Network research shows consumers face roaming charges that can range from as high as $3.50 for a text message down to 38¢.
Data costs range from $51.20/MB down to 50¢/MB.
Telstra says its charges have fallen since a joint Australia-New Zealand report into roaming costs was published in February.
Telstra has also introduced new SMS alerts giving customers specific pricing details for each country they roam in and alerts for every 20MB of data they use.