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Answers please mr Beazley!

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MEDIA RELEASE WARWICK SMITH M.P. Shadow Minister for Communications

7 October 1991

Answers Please Mr Beazley!

It is becoming more and more obvious every day that arrangements about Australia's biggest businesses and, potentially, our greatest growth industry - telecommunications - are being deliberately concealed from the public and the

Parliament. Of course, Mr Beazley has much to worry about and much to hide. He is presiding over one of the biggest commercial risks in the life of this Government.

It is time Mr Beazley came clean. The monster of Telecom and OTC (Australian and Overseas Telecommunications Corporation [AOTC]), with assets worth some $20 billion, will be Australia's single largest business enterprise. As an enterprise owned by government, i.e. the taxpayer, the public and the Parliament have every

right to know about the arrangements for and the progress of the merger. They also have every right to know about how the new overseas competitor for AOTC is to be selected.

Mr Beazley must make a full statement to the Parliament in the October sittings about the Telecom-OTC merger and the progress of the selection process for Australia's second telecommunications carrier.

Specific matters to be addressed are:

1. AOTC Headquarters. Where will it be located? Is Mr Beazley going to order it to remain in Melbourne or will he accept a decision to move it to Sydney or to split it between Melbourne and Sydney?

2. AOTC's Chief Executive. When will a decision be made? Will it be made by the Interim Board alone or will Mr Beazley have an input? Uncertainty about the decision is creating instability for Telecom. The existing Chief Executive and others, deserve a decision soon so the corporation can get on with the job.

3. AOTC's Board. The Interim Board is just that - interim. One would assume the Interim Board members would join the newly established full Board but is this to be the case? As AOTC will be Australia's leading company the choice of Board members is especially vital. What is Mr Beazley doing about this matter? When and how will a decision be made?

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4. Mr Beazley has just been to the U.S. and Hong Kong to 'chat' with the bidders. Is the decision to be based on his personal assessment? A full statement to Parliament on the purpose and content of discussions, without impinging on commercially sensitive matters is required?

Enormous changes are taking place in telecommunications - an industry which affects each and every one of us. The uncertainty, delay and secretive process on a range of issues in the communications arena adds to a very real concern that

the Government has lost sight of, and interest in, the real issues while they continue to struggle to find acceptable solutions to the 1 million unemployed in the midst of a leadership struggle that will not go away.

Contact: Canberra 06 277 4133