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Keep broadband in public hands - Australian Greens

Media Release by Senator Scott Ludlam, Wednesday 3 Dec 08

Also published on citizensagainstsellingtelstra.com.

The Australian Greens say the Government must take a majority equity stake in the National Broadband Network to ensure it's operated in the public interest, as controversy regarding Telstra's bid continues.

"Telstra has carefully cherry-picked from the government's project objectives throughout the bidding process. It wants the $4.7 billion dollars as a low interest loan, it will only cover 80 to 90% of the government's promised 98% of the population and it wants regulations governing competition watered down further," said the Greens Communications Spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam.

"The progressive privatisation process mutated Telstra from a public utility into an aggressive, litigious and self-interested private corporation. If we needed another case study as to why you shouldn't privatise essential services, here it is."

The Senator made the comments as he tabled a minority report on the Government's Broadband Bill in the Senate.

"The Government must hold its ground. If the Government caves into Telstra's demands it risks delivering an expensive lemon to the Australian people, with limited or non-existent regional coverage, and with the interests of Telstra's shareholders continuing to take precedence over the public interest."

For more information or media enquiries please call Robert Simms on 0417 174 302 or visit Senator Scott Ludlam's Web site at scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au.

See also:

"Telstra questions broadband commitment" in the Age of 30 Nov 08,"Conroy defends Telstra's NBN bid" in PC World of 28 Nov 08, "Telstra slams Whirlpool and 'dead tree journalists' over unfair NBN coverage" in IT Wire of 2 Dec 08, "Telstra: We're the only ones to cost broadband proposal" on the ABC on 30 Nov 08, "Telstra spruiks itself in NBN letter" in ZD Net on 3 Dec 08, "Telstra's pitch in the mail" in the Herald Sun of 3 Dec 08.

"$5bn more needed on broadband: Telstra" in the Australian IT Section of 4 Dec 08
"TELSTRA today said it would need the Rudd Labor Government to commit at least $10 billion to build the national broadband network in order to comply with the terms of its tender. ..."

"Telstra's new NBN conversation tool degenerates rapidly" in IT News of 2 Dec 08
"Telstra have added a new mini-site to nowwearetalking to 'encourage a conversation' on the NBN -- let's hope it's a bit more insightful than the first post, which blasts Aussie journalists, Singtel Optus and basically anyone within reach.
"The NBN landing page is designed to be a one-stop-shop to provide information about the National Broadband Network, according to David Quilty, managing director of public policy and communications for Telstra. ...

"Telstra call centres in crisis" in the Australian IT Section of 2 Dec 08
"THE customer and billing software at the heart of Telstra's billion-dollar transformation is a recycled version of a system at Italy's largest telco, built several years ago by systems integrator Accenture."
"Telstra is losing call-centre staff fed up with what they describe as a culture of bullying brought on by the new system.
"The budget for the telco's much-touted transformation program, which focuses on a new platform based on Oracle's Siebel customer relationship management (CRM) software, has blown out to more than $2 billion and suffered months of delays. ..."

"Telstra users left holding exposed lines" in the Sydney Morning Herald Technology Section of 9 Dec 08
"THOUSANDS of Telstra customers are putting up with crude, temporary phone connections with cables held together by tape and plastic bags and strung along fences, across lawns and through trees. In many cases the unsightly - even dangerous - cables are left in place for months and even years, despite repeated pleas to finish the job by burying them. ..."

"Telstra cuts widow off from world" in the Toowoomba Chronicle of 30 Nov 08
"ALL Telstra had to do was take two initials off Mavis Evans's phone bill.
"Instead, it disconnected the Toowoomba widow's landline for three days.
"So distraught at being confronted with the loss of her deceased husband every time she opened her mail, Mrs Evans applied to have his initials deleted.
"'Unbeknownst to me, this means they close the account in both names and reopen the new one,' she said.
"'In the meantime, they disconnect your phone. That, to me, is ridiculous.'
"A loyal customer for 40 years, she and her Pittsworth-based daughter Jan Kruger made about 10 calls to Telstra during the first two days of disconnection alone...."