Minor parties keen to talk on Telstra deal

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Minor parties keen to talk on Telstra deal

Willing to do their own deals.

Australia's minor political parties are all ears for the Rudd Government's plan to spend $11 billion on an NBN deal with Telstra.

On Monday, the Greens said they were "encouraged by the announcement" that Telstra and NBN Co had achieved a starting point for negotiations.

"This agreement heads off an expensive and protracted conflict between Telstra and the Australian Government which would have led to wasteful duplication of resources," said Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

"The Greens will carefully scrutinise the details of today's announcement," he said. "The Government should now bring the Telstra legislation back to the Parliament so that it can be debated."

Right wing party Family First, meanwhile, is "reassessing its position on the [Telstra split] legislation" to see "what bearing the deal has on the legislation."

In November 2009, Family First Senator Steve Fielding told iTnews that he felt the bill forcing Telstra to split was a "gun to Telstra's head."

Fielding told iTnews today that he would now "take  time in considering the $11 billion deal before making any decisions on legislation before parliament.

"The $11 billion deal proves Family First was right not to rush through legislation that would have forced Telstra into a fire sale - which would have seen thousands of mum and dad investors ripped-off," Senator Fielding said.

A spokesman for independent Senator Nick Xenophon said the South Australian Senator will "continue to push for the structural separation of Telstra, even more so now the [NBN Co] deal has been done.

"We'll be seeking more information from the Communications Minister," he said. 

Told you so

The Greens used the opportunity to remind the major parties of why they opposed the privatisation of Telstra.

The deal "may be a significant step along the way to undoing some of the damage that was done when we privatised the national telecommunications carrier," Senator Ludlam said, referring to the three-tranche sale of Telstra.

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