Nat tells Govt to heavy Telstra
THE Nationals candidate for Page, Kevin Hogan, has called on sitting member, Janelle Saffin, to force Telstra into keeping the telco's Goonellabah call centre open.
Telstra yesterday announced the planned closure of the centre that employs 116 people, citing decreasing customer demand.
Mr Hogan believes the Federal Government should 'stand-over' Telstra with its trump card - the $11 billion National Broadband Network contract.
"I call on Janelle Saffin, together with Stephen Conroy, to demand Telstra not close the Call centre in Goonellabah," Mr Hogan said yesterday.
"The Federal Government has signed an $11billion deal with Telstra for the NBN contract (which) has underwritten Telstra's cash flow for years.
"Ms Saffin likes to talk about heavy lifting, there is no more heavy lifting that needs to be done than her walking into Telstra, with Minister Stephen Conroy, point out the government has just given them $11billion to roll out the NBN project, and state quite clearly, that the Goonellabah call centre can not be shut.
"Our community can't afford to lose 116 jobs."
Ms Saffin dismissed Mr Hogan's suggestion as unworkable saying the contract was "signed, sealed and delivered" and called on all interested parties to work together to assist the soon-to-be-made redundant employees.
"I've just got off the phone from (Lismore mayor) Jenny Dowell, (State National Lismore MP) Thomas George and (CPSU organiser) Mary Rose Abbott ... we need all hands joined here and it is a shame Kevin has stepped into the debate in a way designed to divide as we are all working together to support the workers and local community," Ms Saffin said.
"Of course we would all love to hold Telstra to ransom but I am afraid we lost that opportunity when Kevin's Federal National Party colleagues agreed to sell off Telstra, before we had guarantees of even mobile phone coverage in country areas, and no security what so ever for workers - we are living with that legacy today.
"My focus for now is how to best support the employees and keep the pressure on Telstra to do that, and to continue to collaborate with local political leaders and the chambers of commerce, including the Northern Rivers business chamber."