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Nationals sell out their constituents for chicken feed.

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NATIONALS SELL OUT THEIR CONSTITUENTS FOR CHICKEN FEED Australian Democrats Leader Senator Lyn Allison said that a $3 billion kitty has been plucked out of the air and is chicken feed in return for selling $33.8 billion public ownership in Telstra.

"If Senator Joyce thinks this is a reasonable deal, then his objections to the sale are not serious,” Senator Allison said.

"What surprises me the most is that there are other alternatives that the Nationals are not exploring.

"Minister Coonan is wrong when she says that there would be no money to protect services into the future unless Telstra is sold.

"For a start the Government generates $2 billion a year in revenue from Telstra, which would go directly into infrastructure upgrade and maintenance. With the deal this $2 billion will not be available for revenue or for infrastructure year after year.”

Senator Allison said the Government could have required Telstra to focus on core activities that are in the national interest, and divest its shareholdings in non-core offshoots such as Foxtel, Sensis, Telstra Clear and CSL and use the proceeds, around $12 billion, to fund a national roll-out of fibre.

"As the majority shareholder and with Ministerial discretion, the Government could sell off these businesses and keep Telstra's core business public,” Senator Allison said. “This would be the best way to 'future proof' telecommunications for the country.”

"In its rush to the reduce non existent debt, despite Australia having one of the lowest national debts in the OECD, the Government has not given adequate consideration to the implications of the full privatisation of a vertically integrated monopolistic Telstra, and the alternatives.

"Instead we have the Government in a mess, making policy on the run to pursue its ideological wish list.

At the very least the Nationals should take this package to a Senate inquiry so it can be properly scrutinised,” Senator Allison concluded.

Media contact - Katrina McGrath 0408 056 167