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PM has power to give Telstra a rural renovation.



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| March 2000 | Media Releases

Telecommunications News

Senator Lyn Allison Senator for Victoria Australian Democrats spokesperson for Telecommunications

2/3/00

PM has power to give Telstra a rural renovation

The Australian Democrats are today calling on the Prime Minister, John Howard to use his control over Telstra to deliver a performance-enhancing package for the bush.

Democrats Telecommunications spokesperson, Senator Lyn Allison, says majority government ownership and the Ministerial power of direction under the Telstra Corporations Act, give Prime Minister John Howard the power to rejuvenate aging and deficient infrastructure in regional Australia.

"The PM has been very vocal in his support for the bush lately, but is sitting on his hands when he has the power, under the Telstra Corporations Act, to give regional areas the services they were promised from T1 and T2," Senator Allison said.

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) consistently finds Telstra is not meeting its performance targets in rural Australia. They say a number of systemic factors contribute to poor performance:

inadequate infrastructure partly attributable to ageing and under-provisioning of the customer access network ❍

deficient records of cable distribution pairs ❍ some poor work practices and procedures. ❍

The ACA believes Telstra’s current remedial strategy may work in the long term but it is less than confident about short-term improvements in performance.

Senator Allison said, "John Howard has the power to stop Telstra neglecting country regions, but he will lose this power if the remainder is sold off.

"The ongoing reports of a patchy telecommunications service in the bush only serves to harden the Democrats’ opposition to the full sale of Telstra.

"A privately owned Telstra would have even less inclination to consider the bush," Senator Allison concluded.