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Alston's stunt fails.

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ALSTON’S STUNT FAILS Communications Minister Richard Alston’s attempt to sabotage a Senate Committee Inquiry into the state of the telecommunications network throughout Australia has failed.

In a last minute attempt to divert the committee from tackling this important task, the Minister tried to add consideration of the possible structural separation of Telstra to the inquiry’s terms of reference.

This is the same Minister who has described this proposition as “lunacy” and “the nuclear option”. He is the same Minister who refused to allow the Productivity Commission to consider structural separation in its recent otherwise comprehensive examination of telecommunications regulation.

Labor is considering the option of structural separation of Telstra as one of a number of possible reform strategies for telecommunications in Australia. The issues at stake in consideration of all those options are inter-related. Labor will conduct its policy review in a considered and proper way, taking account of all the issues and options. We will not be diverted by hypocritical games and cheap political stunts.

Labor and Democrat Senators on the Environment Communications Information Technology and the Arts References Committee have resolved to inquire into the state of Telstra’s network. This inquiry is of vital importance to informing the emerging debate on all the options for telecommunications reform, including the Government’s proposal to sell the rest of Telstra.

Rather than responding to the Government’s political game playing, Labor intends to press ahead with the inquiry into the state of the telecommunications network as proposed. We expect that broader questions associated with various options for reform canvassed by the Government and the Opposition will consider by Senate in due course.

June 25, 2002

For further information contact Lindsay Tanner or Peter van Vliet on (02) 6277 4428 or 0408 188 055