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SOLD - Nat's sell out their constituents for a song.

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Senator Stephen Conroy Deputy Opposition Leader in the Senate Shadow Minister for Communications and InformationTechnology

17 August 2005

SOLD - Nat's sell out their constituents for a song

After nine long years, the Australian public has today seen the true colours of the out of touch Howard government.

Without the check of an independent Senate, the Howard government has today confirmed that it will force through the sale of Telstra against the wishes of the vast majority of the Australian population.

Make no mistake, today the National Party has hammered the final nail into their political coffin. The bush will never forgive them for this act of betrayal.

Despite the bluster, the Liberals have called Barnaby's bluff.

Not only have the National Party sold out their electorate, they have sold out for a package that goes no where near addressing the real needs of rural and regional Australia. The government's package is hopelessly inadequate in the following respects:

Infrastructure funding

Just last week, Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo told the government that $5.7 billion needed to be invested in Australia's creaking telecommunications infrastructure to bring it up to world standards. The government's package falls billions of dollars short of this mark.

Metropolitan and suburban broadband

The Minister also confirmed in question time that today's package does not include 1 cent of funding to improve equally needy services in metropolitan and suburban Australia. The government's package is tailored towards its political interests rather than the national interest.

Price Controls

The government has completely rejected the ACCC's recommendation on Telstra's price controls and as a result consumers will be slugged an extra $600 million over the next three years by a fully privatised Telstra. While the ACCC recommended in March of this year that a basket of Telstra's

telecommunications services be capped at CPI -4.5%, the package announced today by the Minister caps prices at current levels, denying consumers the flow on benefits of price reductions resulting from technological innovation.

Further information: Stephen Conroy on (02) 6277 3295 or Tim Watts 0439 315848

Wednesday, 17 August 2005