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The pork barrel's rolling, but careful! - there's a $4 billion hole in it!

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Senator Meg Lees

Australian Democrats

Parliamentary Leader


10 July, 1998






There is a $4 billion hole in the Telstra-funded pork barrel, according to the Australian Democrats.


The Democrats Leader, Senator Meg Lees, said that the Government’s shameless use of the Telstra pork barrel cannot be sustained beyond six years because of a looming $4 billion budget black hole.


“The Prime Minister is spending part of what he claims will be a $2.4 billion interest saving after the sale of Telstra but he is ignoring the $6.5 billion loss to the public coffers which will accumulate within six years of the sale”, said Senator Lees.


“There is a very large hole in the Government’s pork barrel and the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are incapable of seeing it.


“The Democrats have been conducting research on the issue and it is very clear that to us that the Australian people don’t want Telstra sold off.


“Australians are very well aware that the income stream from the publicly owned asset is available to improve the national communication system and for social services” said Senator Lees. “The Government ignores this strong public opinion at its peril.”


Last week the Democrats predicted that the Nationals would agitate long and loudly against the sale of Telstra until Cabinet rolled out the pork barrel.


“It happened exactly as we predicted — but it is very clear that the $150 million package announced by Mr Fischer will not save his colleagues from electoral havoc.


“While we are pleased to learn that rural Australians will have access to untimed local calls, we question why there is a distinction made between rural Australians and those who live in the outer areas surrounding the metropolitan areas,” she said.


The Universal Service Obligation — the obligation binding telecommunications carriers to certain service standards, states that Telstra is to provide a standard telephone service to all people in Australia.


“In my home state of South Australia, people who live at Gawler and Willunga, for instance, still have their calls timed — and there is no relief for them on the horizon.


‘By selling Telstra, the Government is killing the goose that lays the golden egg” said Senator Lees.


For further information:

John Schumann 0419 867876

Senator Meg Lees 0418 804505