Telstra receives fresh challenge to Sensis cuts

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Telstra receives fresh challenge to Sensis cuts

Change to carrier license conditions?

Telstra may yet be blocked from offshoring production work for its Sensis division, after the Government made an eleventh-hour bid to keep the work in Australia.

Senator Jacinta Collins has spearheaded a proposal to make it a carrier licensing condition that Telstra keeps all production work for "printed an online national number directories within Australia". (pdf)

Her referral to a Senate Committe came at the request of Stephen Conroy and was prompted by an attempt by the Greens to bring the issue to a head in Parliament on Tuesday last week.

The inquiry listing provides little further detail on the proposal before the committee, saying only that it is accepting submissions until July 4 and must report by July 19.

A Telstra spokesperson said: "In accordance with the terms of reference for this inquiry, Telstra will make a submission to the Senate Committee before the 4 July deadline."

Telstra is proposing to cut up to 700 local Sensis jobs and drive production work on its telephone directories overseas.

The Greens have attempted on multiple occasions to prevent Telstra from actioning the plan.

Earlier this month, Greens MP Adam Bandt failed to win the support of a different Senate Committee to amend telecommunications legislation to force Sensis to keep the work in Australia.

The committee did not see the legislative vehicle it was examining as an appropriate place to address the Sensis issue and urged the Greens to pursue a private members bill instead.

Although the Greens disagreed with the committee's assessment, Bandt lodged a private members bill on Tuesday last week and sought a suspension of standing orders in the House of Representatives to have it debated.

"Given that parliament is rising and given that there is currently no intention to reconvene before September, this is our last chance," Bandt said.

"If the government has another plan to save these jobs, I would love to hear it, but we are at five minutes to midnight for these workers and their families..."

Leader of the House Anthony Albanese said he had contacted Conroy prior to Question Time on Tuesday last week to ascertain the Government's position on the Sensis cuts.

"He [Conroy] informed me that he will refer the issues which are canvassed in the [Greens' private members] bill to the Senate for further evaluation," Albanese said. (pdf)

The motion to suspend standing orders did not carry, but Conroy made good on his reference of the issue to the Senate, despite stepping down as Communications Minister in the same period.

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