Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been accused of bullying and intimidating telecommunications bosses, after attacking the Vodafone chief for questioning government policy.
Senator Conroy has compared Vodafone Australia boss Bill Morrow to unpopular former Telstra boss Sol Trujillo, after he questioned the government's commitment to the universal service obligation.
Mr Morrow has called for a review of the subsidies paid to maintain fixed line services, which he said had cost the industry more than $660 million over 10 years, The Australian Financial Review says.
"I find it extraordinary that the world's largest mobile operator wants to close down a regional network for people they don't service," Senator Conroy reportedly told an industry event in Canberra on Thursday.
"We haven't seen another telco CEO act like this since Sol Trujillo."
Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said Senator Conroy's comments were typical of "a very arrogant and bullying attitude" to a regulated industry.
"A minister that flaunts his power and seeks to bully the industry is really doing a lot of damage, both to the credibility of the government, the standing of Australia and the perception investors have of Australia," he told ABC radio.
"What it is calculated to do and intended to do is intimidate people into not criticising government policy."