Telstra executives should be "doing cartwheels" for reaching a preliminary agreement to lease a "hole in the ground" to NBN Co for billions of dollars, according to the leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Barnaby Joyce.In a biting tirade against the Government, Joyce said the $11 billion agreement announced yesterday was "a brilliant deal for Telstra.""No wonder Telstra is happy," Joyce shouted."Telstra should be doing cartwheels, cartwheels about this deal because they [retain] ownership [of the passive infrastructure]."What we're doing is just handing money to Telstra. They get a $5 billion rent on their ducts. "We don't own them. NBN [Co] doesn't own them. Telstra retains ownership of them. "It's a brilliant deal for Telstra and they get to lose the universal service obligation - they can flick that one out the door. The protections that we put in place, they can flick that out the door. Protections gone, money's in, debts gone up, its a typical Labor deal."Joyce said that the long-term arrangement amounted to "leasing a hole in the ground"."You're leasing a hole in the ground and the rent's going to cost you 5 billion dollars," Joyce said.He also said that handing the universal service obligation over to the newly-created USO Co amounted to "privatising the guarantee to look after Australians"."[The Government] know when to privatise something," Joyce said."They privatise responsibility, that's what they privatise. They privatise public responsibility."
Issue: 315 | May 2013
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