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Snowdon barking up the wrong tree on Telstra.

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Media Release



Minister for Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts

Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate


Snowdon barking up the wrong tree on Telstra


'Labor's candidate for the Northern Territory, W arren Snowdon, has been caught lying about Telstra,' the Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, said today.


'In form letters sent to Territory organisations, Mr Snowdon claims that the Government would allow Telstra to be "owned in large part by foreign telephone companies".


'Wrong. The Government's Telstra bill limits total foreign ownership in Telstra to 35 per cent. Individual foreigners or foreign companies are limited to five per cent.


'The fact is that these same conditions were imposed on the highly successful first sale, and not one single foreign telephone company bought shares because of these conditions. Australians bought the shares - 1.8 million Australians.


'Mr Snowdon also claims a privatised Telstra wouldn't upgrade services to the bush, and would in fact increase charges for regional customers.


'Wrong again. Telstra must by law provide subsidised services to regional areas under the Universal Service Obligation which provided a $251 million subsidy to regional phone users last year. The Government is making use of this law to examine ways to force Telstra and the other phone companies to provide high speed Internet access to everyone - whether you live in Darwin or Papunya.


'The law for the USO can't be changed except by both houses of Federal Parliament. The Coalition will oppose any Labor attempt to water down these important protections for the bush.


'The truth is that it was the Labor Government of which Mr Snowdon was a part which presided over an appalling degradation of services to regional Australia.


'The Northern Territory's current Member, Nick Dondas, has in contrast been a staunch advocate for regional Australia in general, and for the Territory in particular.


'When Territorians are given the choice at the next election, a litany of lies won't help Mr Snowdon.'



Hon Nick Dondas AM MP, 08 8945 7400 (Darwin) or 02 6277 4519 (Canb)

Terry O'Connor, Senator Alston's office 02 6277 7480 or 0419 636 879

Jo Smallacombe, Mr Dondas's office 08 8945 7400 or 0419 945 140





25 June 1998