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Labor's broadband mess gets a whole lot messier.



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Thu, 17th July 2008

LABOR'S BROADBAND MESS GETS A WHOLE LOT MESSIER

The Hon Bruce Billson MP Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

The Rudd Labor Government's National Broadband Network (NBN) mess got a whole lot messier today with the box-seat proponent Telstra withdrawing from workplace enterprise agreement negotiations concerned union demands could jeopardise its NBN bid.

Telstra claims the unions want it to enter into a side agreement containing pro-union clauses, banned under current workplace laws, in exchange for ACTU support for its NBN bid.

In the absence of any detailed information or clarity about how the NBN process was conceived or how bids will be assessed another group emerges seeking to excerpt its influence over it.

It would be deeply disturbing if this was a case of the union movement attempting to exploit its close links to the Rudd Government and using Telstra and the NBN project as Trojan Horses to re-assert union power in the workplace.

What difference should it make if the ACTU is for or against an NBN bid - Telstra or otherwise? These developments just further fuel fears that the national interest and the consumer interest are competing for most neglected status under the Rudd Government's shambolic NBN tender.

Surely the merit of the bid, measured against the tender selection criteria, the national interest, public policy objectives and consumer benefits are what matters when awarding a $4.7 billion tender, not union preferment based on some dodgy side deal.