Conroy 'bullies' telcos: Turnbull

Conroy 'bullies' telcos: Turnbull

Summary: Australian Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused his Labor counterpart of bullying telcos over his reaction to criticism of taxpayer money paid to Telstra.


After Communications Minister Stephen Conroy on Thursday reportedly mocked Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow's call to stop paying Telstra for universal service obligations, comparing the US-native CEO to the controversial former Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused Conroy of being a telecommunications bully.

Earlier this week, Morrow wrote an opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review calling for a review of the subsidies paid to Telstra to provide fixed line phone services because mobile services were fast replacing fixed line as a primary means of communication in Australia.

Conroy reportedly mocked Vodafone at an industry event on Thursday for "lecturing" while losing so many customers.

"They lost 750,000 customers due to poor service and they want to lecture to everybody, they want to cut those people off. They are doing a good enough job of that themselves," he allegedly said.

"We haven't seen another telco CEO act like this since Sol Trujillo."

Turnbull said on the AM program on Friday morning that Morrow's article was "perfectly reasonable", and Conroy was engaged in bullying the telecommunications industry.

"He adopts a very arrogant and bullying attitude to the industry. After all, this is the minister who said in New York not so long ago that he was so powerful that if he told Telecom executives that they had to wear red underpants on their heads when they next came to meet him, they would do so because he was so awesome in his magnificent power," he said.

Turnbull said that the telecommunications industry was so regulated that Conroy was flaunting his power, but despite lashing out against the minister, Turnbull would not commit to reviewing the universal service obligation scheme. He said he would have to wait until he had access to all of the financial information if the Coalition wins government in September.

Earlier this week, Turnbull also suggested that NBN Co should be in so-called "virtual caretaker mode" and not be entering into contracts that a potential future Coalition government may disagree with.

"I'm just saying this is just common sense prudence, if I was the chief executive of NBN Co in these circumstances or if I was a director of that company, I would be careful and try to avoid, in so far as I could, entering into contracts that might be seen as, in effect, shackling the right of the new government," Turnbull told Radio National.

Caretaker mode of government officially commences after the issuing of election writs, which will occur on August 14.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU, Telcos


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Turnbull looking for a headline

    Turnbull as always full of fluff and nothing of substance. The question for Turnbull to answer is does he agree with Morrow ? And clearly he does not as evidenced by his silence on the matter. Morrow , an American , would have the service obligations reduced to rural Australia which in turn can only hurt rural Australians ( who Vodafone do not cover ) so that his company have a reduced financial obligation which in turn will allow him to either pocket it or use it in the cities where Vodafone do have coverage ...... Conroy should be fighting on this one. Given the continuing progress and growth of Telstra and the accelerating decline of the Vodafone business you have to question the relevance of anything Morrow says given all the grand statements since his arrival a year ago and yet Vodafone customers continue to vote with their feet.
    • Conroy looking for undeclared freebies?

      The labor way (when not abusing people into silence):

      "The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has heard former NSW Labor factional player Eddie Obeid offered free accommodation at his family's Perisher Valley ski lodge to many Labor members, including Tony Burke and Stephen Conroy, now federal ministers."

      Yet another member of this govt involved with questionable characters (just unlucky I guess;-).

      Australians be proud we've well past the most incompetent govt title of the Whitlam era. And these people are to be trusted with another $60 billion of borrowed taxpayer money;-)
      Richard Flude
      • The Flude way

        The Flude way (while pushing his political agenda)

        Replies to posts with content that has nothing to do with the post or the article but is simply pushing his political agenda.

        "$60 billion of borrowed taxpayer money"
        Only $60B, don't the Liberal guidelines tell you to say $100B? Tax payer money is also out, Turnbull has even stopped using that tired old bit of FUD.
      • Speaking of incompetent...

        do you have that page number yet Fluddy?
        Hubert Cumberdale
        • LOL

          Like the clown that is alain (@Delimiter) it seems when a basic question is asked of Fluddy to simply justify his comment/position... he has no answer... ROFL...!!!!!!!
          • I'm not surprised. They are rather "special" flowers that require just the right amount of sunlight and water after all. Seems too much light in this case makes them shrivel up :-(
            Hubert Cumberdale
          • Special...

            A specila blend of Telstra/Coalition sunlight at that...LOL.

            Jeebus, we can all weigh the policies and vote accordingly, either way. But these minions and their brainwashed allegiance to one party and one company, is either noteworthy for their loyalty or woefully pitiful for their mindless subservience?
  • The only thing more disgusting

    Than idiot politicians and their glib one liners, are media outlets that sanction this form of self promotion by reporting on it. This isn't news.
    • Agreed

      I wish they'd stop giving Turnbull outlets to spread his FUD.
  • It's about time we found a really good telco bully.

    Good stuff Conroy hope you are a really good Telco bully we really need one!
    Kevin Cobley
  • Voda who??

    Well we see yet again another CEO from the US that does not understand anything about Australia. There is more to Australia then the 100 km wide strip of land running from Brisbane to Melbourne. In others words this is the area Vodafone service with their customers and maybe the odd customer in Adelaide and Perth.
    I lived 30km's away from the nearest town in Rural Australia and we had one phone company Telstra. In all the years I lived in this town not a single person or rep for any other mobile company.
    Telstra may not be perfect, but hey is any other mobile company NO!
    Maybe if Vodafone wanted to and tried to it should start setting up an ISP and go to remote places and try to offer a service in opposition to Telstra. As if that will ever happen.
    No its easier to sit and whinge, like all these over paid CEO's.
  • They lost 750,000 customers due to poor service....oh boy...

    I think Conroy needs to be careful - it is not only Morrow who want's a review of this, Simon Hackett fighted to get information on this agreement to be released under freedom of information, and failed.

    Didn't Vodaphone become one of the first RSP's to join NBN-Co, hardly a Sol Trujillo act.

    And about stones and Glass Houses, when will we see NBN-Co with 750k connections, yet alone customers?

    Conroy's spray is self defeating, what an error of judgement.
    beau parisi
    • Blah blah blah

      The NBN has only just begun to ramp up the roll out...

      Gee they don't have 750 000 customers yet... so?

      When they do do you think they will be silly enough to lose them?
      • How many years has the NBN been rolling out?

        Do that in a private company and it would be liquidated before a single customer joins up. Just admit it. NBN has been a complete and utter failure to be implemented.
        Kunal Nanda
        • Err...

          That's the point... no company wanted to, so the government had to...

          Got it now?
  • its probably

    time for Sen Convoy to find himself another ministry. He has at least got the ball rolling on an NBN for Australia. What could be best for all for all is a new minister, not carrying all this baggage .
    Blank Look
  • Baggage?

    Conroy may be a religious nut (like Abbott) but credit where credit is due, he has changed Australia's Comms forever...

    But then there's the filter :/

    However agreed, having done the ground work it may well be time for someone with more actual comms knowledge like Kate Lundy to take over and breathe new life into the NBN..

    All conjecture of course considering the Sept 14 election and possible change of government, but although we have had our differences, I must admit that is possibly, a good call Visionary.
    • "he has changed Australia's Comms forever"

      Justify that statement. Has it been changed for the better or for worse? You have no idea what you are talking about. A plan that is concocted on a plane on a tissue is not how a multi-billion dollar project is launched.
      Kunal Nanda
  • Speaking about not knowing...

    For the better boy...

    Relinquishing Telstra's stranglehold, upgrading obsolescence and doing so by using debt which will be repaid via clientele, has change comms forever... even the Coalition (who went to the last election opposing it) now embrace Telstra structural separation.

    ...and if he did all of this on the back of a napkin (you forgot on one flight) and in one fell swoop has outdone 15 years on Coalition comms policy, at a whim, I''m sure you'd have to agree?

    So please educate yourself, even to entry level, before trying to correspond with the men... your comms illiteracy is pitifully embarrassing :)