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Alston: more deceit on Telstra, the ABC and Australia Post.



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Stephen Smith - Alston: More Deceit On Telstra, The ABC And Australia Post http://www.alp.org.au//media/1001/ssmsra241001.html Thursday, 25 October 2001

ALP News Statements

Alston: More Deceit On Telstra, The ABC And Australia Post Stephen Smith - Shadow Minister for Communications

Media Statement - 24 October 2001

Australians are getting sick and tired of Communications Minister Richard Alston saying one thing when another is clearly the truth.

This morning on Channel Seven's Sunrise program, Senator Alston repeated his deceit on Telstra, the ABC and Australia Post.

This is what Senator Alston had to say, and then there is the truth:

On Telstra

ALSTON: The key we're focussing on right now is quality of service.

THE TRUTH: The Coalition will sell Telstra in 2003-04, before the problems with rural and regional mobile phone and Internet services identified by the Government have been fixed. The Government's funding for its response to the Besley Inquiry report will not have been fully allocated, let alone spent until the end of the 2004-05 financial year. (Source: Commonwealth Budget Papers 2001-02.)

On ABC Funding

ALSTON: … they have more funding than they have ever had …

THE TRUTH: The Government cut $66 million from the ABC's Budget in 1996 and 1997 (Source: Commonwealth Budget Papers 1996-97).

And despite giving the ABC some additional funding in this year's Budget, the ABC itself recently advised that after abnormal items, depreciation and other adjusted funding arrangements are taken into account, the ABC is actually $36.3 million worse off in real terms in 2001-02 than it was in 1995-96. (Sources: Commonwealth Budget Papers 2001-02; and Answers on Notice to Senate Estimates, Senate

Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee.)

On Australia Post

ALSTON: What Labor wants to implement would place 3,500 small businesses at risk.

THE TRUTH: This is simply not true. Senator Alston's claim is based on his utterly false assertion that Licensed Post Offices and Community Mail Agencies will pay for the new electronic and broadband Internet services that will be provided under Kim Beazley's Plan for Australia Post. (Source: Media Releases E/046 - 22 October 2001; and E39 - 21 October 2001.)

These most recent claims, contradict Senator's Alston's initial assertion and the claims made by Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson that the cost of these additional services would be borne wholly by consumers. (AAP - 6:42pm, 20 October 2001; Transcript, ABC Insiders - 21 October 2001.)

In fact, and as is currently the case, the cost of Kim Beazley's Plan for Australia Post will be borne by Government departments and agencies and big businesses that will use the new technology to provide services.

Unlike Senator Alston's knowingly false claims, Labor's costings have been independently verified.

And rather than being a threat to the small business owners of Licensed Post Offices and Community Mail Agencies, Kim Beazley's Plan for Australia Post is in direct response to their requests.

The two organisations representing the interests of Licensed Post Offices and Community Mail Agencies, the Post Office Agents Association and the Licensed Post Office Association of Australia, the Country Women's Association and even some of the Government's own Senators support Labor's plan to roll out these additional services. (Source: Report of the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee into the Government's Postal Services Amendment Bill 2000.)

Conclusion

Senator Alston is not telling the truth about Telstra, the ABC and Australia Post because he wants to try and hide the fact that, if re-elected, the Howard-Anderson Government will:

fully privatise Telstra; ● continue its financial and political attacks on the ABC; and ● further deregulate Australia Post, threatening services in outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australia and the livelihoods of the owners of many Licensed Post Offices and Community Mail

Agencies.

●

Senator Alston has form. He simply cannot be believed. Australians will not be so easily deceived.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.