NBN not lobbying coalition: Albanese

Summary:Australia's Communications Minister Anthony Albanese has defended the independence of the NBN board and its hiring of Bespoke Approach.

Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has denied claims that NBN Co board members contracted a lobbying firm to save their jobs should there be a change of government.

The board of NBN Co has hired the firm Bespoke Approach, which Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull claims is lobbying Coalition MPs.

The opposition's communications spokesperson said the firm has been talking up the achievements of NBN Co so its directors will keep their jobs — leading to allegations of misuse of taxpayer money.

Turnbull hinted last week that he might sack board members of the federal government-owned company if the Coalition is elected.

But Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the firm was hired only to help with public relations regarding the National Broadband Network.

It was set up by senior political figures, including former Liberal minister Alexander Downer, former Liberal staffer Ian Smith, and former Labor minister Nick Bolkus.

"Do I believe that a company employing a public relations company is in breach of company guidelines? Good luck with that ... get serious," Albanese told reporters in Sydney.

"They're a PR company led by Alexander Downer and Ian Smith, and if Malcolm Turnbull's got a problem with Alexander Downer and Ian Smith, the divisions in the Coalition go back a long way."

The NBN board is independent and makes its own decisions, he added.

"I say to Malcolm that it's time to stop playing politics with this, and to stop the personal attacks against NBN, whether it be the chair or the NBN Co board members," Albanese said.

Topics: NBN, Australia, Government : AU

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