Telstra may dodge legal challenge to Sensis cuts

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Telstra may dodge legal challenge to Sensis cuts

No committee support for Greens move.

Telstra is a step closer to dodging a legislative bullet aimed at saving the jobs of almost 700 Sensis workers after a Greens-backed amendment to existing laws failed to gain traction with a Senate committee.

Greens MP Adam Bandt tabled an amendment in the lower house in mid-April that could have forced Telstra to perform all production works for its White Pages and Yellow Pages directories in Australia, removing any option to offshore such work.

The move was aimed at saving almost 700 Sensis workers that are to be cut from the ailing directories business by Telstra. The cuts were announced in February this year.

Bandt had attempted to tack the Sensis amendments onto an existing Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Consumer Protection) Bill 2013, which — among other things — is a vehicle to aid reform of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) scheme.

A Senate Committee examining the bill said it "shared" concerns about local jobs, but ruled Bandt's amendments were "inconsistent" with the bill's stated purpose. (pdf)

The Committee stated that Bandt's amendments "ought to be the subject of a standalone bill".

But Greens Senator Scott Ludlam dismissed the suggestion in "additional comments" provided to the committee.

"The Greens do not accept that a separate private members' bill is required and note the absence of any advice from the Clerk to this effect," Ludlam said.

"The Greens' amendments are in order.

"The old parties, Labor and Liberal, talk loudly about protecting local jobs. Here's a chance for them to do something about it.

"The simple move of requiring onshore production [of print and online directories] would — at no cost to the Government — protect hundreds of jobs.

"The Greens amendments should be supported by the Parliament".

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