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Wednesday, 14 May 2003
Page: 14597


Mr Tanner asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 18 March 2003:

(1) Is it the case that the Telstra subsidiary, Sensis, replaced retrenched Sensis staff with outsourced staff from Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd, a joint venture between Telstra and Excell Asia Pacific Pty Ltd; if so, how many Sensis staff were retrenched and how many Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd staff were rehired on an outsourced basis.

(2) What payments have been made by Sensis to Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd for the provision of services, and what is the nature of those services.

(3) How much money, if any, has Sensis contracted, or budgeted, to provide to Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd in future.

(4) Has the Sensis board member and Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd board member, Mr Andrew Day, benefited financially from the provision of any services to Sensis by Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd; if so, what was the full extent of the benefit.

(5) Was there a tender process in regard to the provision of services to Sensis by Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd; if so, what was that process.

(6) What is the nature and purpose of Telstra's investment in Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd.


Mr McGauran (Minister for Science) —The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts has provided the following answer, based on information provided by Telstra, to the honourable member's question:

(1) No, retrenched Sensis staff were not replaced by Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd staff.

Furthermore, no permanent staff were retrenched from Sensis and re-hired through Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd (`Stellar').

(2) Sensis has two contracts with Stellar for the provision of services.

Stellar is providing Sensis with a call centre to answer Yellow Pages Connect calls. Sensis operates the Yellow Pages Connect service; which is a premium, advertiser referral service. Details regarding payments by Sensis to Stellar under this contract are commercial-in-confidence.

Stellar also provides data entry and call centre services. These services consist of providing timely and accurate maintenance of customer information and directory listings within the Sensis and Telstra databases. Details regarding payments by Sensis to Stellar under this contract are commercial-in-confidence.

Both of these contracts were rolled over into an umbrella agreement effective from 1 January 2003.

(3) Details regarding payments by Sensis to Stellar are commercial-in-confidence.

(4) Sensis board member and Stellar board member, Mr Andrew Day, receives no payment or benefit from Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd.

Mr Day's travel costs to attend Stellar Board meetings are paid for by Telstra.

(5) For the Yellow Pages Connect service, Stellar was the only organisation, at the time, with the technological capability suitable to support the Yellow Pages Connect platform.

For the customer operations service in May 2002, Teletech, United Customer Management Solutions and Stellar were invited to respond to a brief detailing Sensis' requirements for services. Of the three responses received, the Stellar quote was the lowest cost and most suitable.

(6) The nature of Telstra's investment in Stellar Call Centres Pty Ltd is as follows:

Stellar is an incorporated joint venture owned 50% by Telstra and 50% by US call centre specialists, Excell Global Services LLC (`Excell').

Pursuant to the Stellar shareholders agreement, both Telstra and Excell are entitled to appoint three directors.

The right to appoint the Chairman is shared between both parties on a rotational basis.

In making the decision to invest in Stellar, Telstra's purpose was to strategically position itself in the expanding call centre market.