Conroy puts Fielding in front of Telstra, NBN Co

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Conroy puts Fielding in front of Telstra, NBN Co

Seeks smooth passage of consumer safeguards bill.

The Government has moved to facilitate meetings between Family First Senator Steve Fielding and Telstra and NBN Co as it seeks passage of legislation that has become known as the 'Telstra bill' through Parliament.

It came less than a week after Australia's minor political parties indicated they were all ears for the Rudd Government's plan to spend $11 billion on an NBN deal with Telstra.

Speaking in Sydney today, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said he had spoken to Fielding personally "a couple of times last week."

"We've got him a briefing with the Telstra guys and we're trying to line one up [with NBN Co]," Conroy said.

"Hopefully now that the heads of agreement [between Telstra and NBN Co] has been completed, he'll [Fielding] be now willing to consider supporting the bill.

"He never said he was opposed to the bill - he always said he wanted to consider it.

"He wants to look at the deal, the overall package now with the amendments, and make a decision. Any information we need to provide him with, we're doing our best to organise for him."

Conroy said that passage of the Communications and Consumer Safeguards bill was important for more reasons than just the separation of Telstra.

In particular, Conroy foreshadowed the possibility of further amendments to the bill text over the next seven weeks of parliamentary break time.

"We're just in the early stages of looking at what we need to do now that we've got the agreement with Telstra," Conroy said.

"There's a few other issues we can look at now that we've got the seven week break."

He said that while Telstra separation was important, "there are other things in that piece of legislation that are just as important to Australian consumers."

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