Telstra resorts to personal attacks in FTTN war

Telstra resorts to personal attacks in FTTN war

Summary: Telstra PR spinner Rod Bruem would want to have a lot of confidence in the carrier's legal team today.


commentary Telstra PR spinner Rod Bruem would want to have a lot of confidence in the carrier's legal team today.

I refer to his rather grubby attack on ALP Senator Kate Lundy over what he sees as a potential conflict of interest between her role as an elected Senator and her husband's job as a lobbyist for his competitors.

Blogs and commentaries (and mine are no exception) are often dealing in opinions, half-truths, innuendo. But writers deserved to be raked over the coals when they get their facts completely wrong.

Bruem suggests Senator Lundy has failed to adequately "disclose her relationship" with her husband, Mr David Forman during debates around telecommunications regulation.

"At times," he writes, "you get the impression that Lundy and Mr Forman plan their pincer attacks on Telstra over the family breakfast table before taking themselves up the hill and staging a public re-enactment before the cameras in Parliament House."

Bruem's powers of suggestion are most impressive, his facts are wrong. As Lundy has stated in her reply to parliament, she has on no less than three separate occasions made the potential for this conflict of interest a matter for the public record.

Bruem's blog also suggests that Forman and Lundy's personal relationship, which has been public for at least six or seven years now, was some big secret parliament and press gallery alike. He mentions that "one prominent journalist" he spoke to hadn't made the Lundy-Forman connection.

It's far more plausible that the more learned of the journalist ranks decided Lundy's personal life to be just that — personal, and have until now declined to comment on it. They would only feel the need to be as vocal as Bruem if in the possession of solid evidence that Lundy had over-stepped the mark and abused her position for her husband's gain.

The curious thing about Bruem's blog is its timing.

There have been plenty of other times interested parties could have brought up the potential for Lundy and Forman's partnership to be problematic. There was some snickering, for example, about Parliament House in 2002 when Lundy went into the bat for the local photonics industry while her partner was a key player in it.

Hansard 26 August 2002 (pdf)
Hansard 21 November 2002 (pdf)

But her political opponents chose never to raise the issue publicly.

It might be because Lundy has had an interest in the IT&C industry from well before she met her husband. While she may occasionally be privy to some deeper insights about these issues via her husband, but her advocacy is one founded on genuine concern and interest in the issues. Lundy could, in fact, feel unlucky not to have the IT&C portfolio considering her history in it.

The fact that Lundy's questions in parliament around Telstra ring true with the opinions of her spouse shouldn't surprise anybody. One, he is a former business journalist with an equally fervent history of advocacy when it comes to Australian innovation. Two, I'd say a good deal of her constituents (other than Telstra shareholders) would agree with her concerns.

Now back to the question of Telstra's timing. Why a witch-hunt now, while Lundy is on the backbench?

The answer is simple. The questions Lundy is asking in parliament about Telstra are vital ones. They are about the one thing Telstra is most scared of — structural separation. Should Telstra win the FTTN tender, structural separation would make such a win far less profitable.

Maintaining the pretence that operational separation is working, however, will only harm consumers.

Topics: Telcos, Broadband, Telstra

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  • Bruem should be sacked.

    I have personally been harassed by Mr Bruem when he was in charge of the blog forums. After posting some questions (not in Telstras favour i might add) on the forums I received a snide email asking for all my personal details (address, phone number etc).

    Registration on the site in order to post required enough personal information to identify an individual (not to mention IP address etc), so the motive for the additional information request is a mystery.

    At least Bruem is no longer in charge the forums over there.
  • Good on Bruem!!

    If the public are made aware of any possible conflicts of interests with politicians I think he should be congratulated!!
  • What conflict?

    Can't you read..dim wit!

    It's public knowledge...
  • Spot ON

    You got it right & everyone knows it.

    "Maintaining the pretence that operational separation is working, however, will only harm consumers."

    Tel$tra doesn't care about the consumer & any pretence they offer that they do care, is a total nonsense.

    Wake up. It's not a totally owned Australian company any more. In fact it's probably owned by more overseas shareholders, than the allowed amount, through trusts, & we'll never know.
  • Thats Bruem for you!

    I too have been the subject of petty harrassment by Bruem on the NWAT site, as outlined above. His articles are nothing short of childish at the best of times, devoid of actual fact and high on empty rhetoric, xenophobia and name calling. I have heard the kids at the local preschool make more adult arguments than Rod Bruem. Bruem is the main reason NWAT became a laughing stock. Posts were edited to make them into something they werent. Posters werent given timely right to reply to misleading "editorial" added to their posts by the Editor Mr Bruem. Journalistic integrity is sadly lost on Mr Bruem. His modus operandi is to play the man, not the ball.
  • ?!

    I'm surprised you are surprised. That site is adminstered in exactly the right way for the purposes it was created - as a propaganda vehicle to confuse and mislead consumers about the Australian telecommunication market place.

    The real shame is that joe public gets sucked into it in the first place.
  • lundy's Motives

    "The curious thing about Bruem's blog is its timing."

    To the contrary I think that all of a sudden Lundy starts asking questions about the NBN with qustions obviously biased HAS to be qustioned.
  • Remove all doubt Prime Minister.

    I think it would be wise for the Prime Minister to require Senator Lundy to absent herself from any discussion regarding Telstra or the NBN.

    The fact that her husband runs an organisation in opposition to Telstra may be grounds for the Prime Minister to question whether Senator Lundy could use our Parliament (or be seen to do so) for her personal gain.
  • ... you dim wit!

    You can call someone else that, see if you can take it.

    People pull out references to her disclosures from 2002 and 2003, how about finding one that occurred sometime since the last 2 elections.

    You are the king of conspiracy theorists, shareholding allowances exceeded because there are shares held in trusts which are controlled by overseas interests. How about the percentage of shares that are owned by the Mars rovers, as the rules are to control overseas holdings and not interplanetary holdings.

    Once again you stoop to new depths in logic and new highs in stupidity.
  • chortle opposed to Telstra shareholders attempting to use our paliament for their own personal financial gain?

    Welcome to politics Sydney. I think you will find more than a few people with political power holding an interest in various companies which could be viewed as a conflict of interest. Why aren't you persuing them? Oh, that's right, you're a Telstra stooge.
  • Hypocrites

    Hypothetically, I wonder how you clowns would react if you found out Mrs Phil Burgess was a Senator? You'd be doing a Mr Bruem wouldn't you, be truthful for once?
  • Oh

    Seems you asked, but couldn't handle the truth. Or maybe stupid questions deserve stupid answers. Instead of sobbing just get over it!
  • Re. That's Breum

    Refer to oh above.
  • zzzz

    You'd have to have rocks in your head to believe any politician is impartial, regardless of who they are associated with. People are people, and will have many bias opinions derived from years of experience, no matter who they are.
  • About time sen Lundy was called to account

    Sen Lundy has used Senate estimates over many years to take Telstra to task. Many of the questions were partisan and could be interpreted as designed to provide support for the CCC (her husbands lobby group representing other telcos).

    Not once did Sen Lundy declare her interest as she should have been required to. She has only herself to blaim if she is now seen as having stepped over the mark.

    I am a labour supporter and sat through many Sen Estimates. Sen Lundy's behaviour at Sen Estimates (which was very agressive and often close to abusive) opened the door - she can only close it by a mea-culpa - not by bluster.

    If there is any doubt you can check the hansards.
  • Hmmm

    Brett, do you and David Braue play good cop, bad cop over there at ZD?

    As opposed to previously, now when I read David's articles, they are interesting with little in the way of stupid sensationalism, just detail (hope I haven't spoken too soon). Unfortunately however, seems you have now taken the baton.

    You come here as the knight in shining armour to protect the good Senator and pander to the Telstra bashers, which is you prerogative. However, you seem to have only seen what you wanted to see and refuse to acknowledge even the slightest possibility of a conflict of interest! The very thing which almost cost Kevin Rudd the Prime Minister ship, because of his wife's business interests!

    I'm certainly not accusing the good Senator of anything untoward, but all biases aside, don't you find it even a tiny bit strange that Sen. Lundy hasn't made a disclosure for years and only whilst in "opposition"? Nothing since becoming a "government Senator"! It's all good and well to disclose many years ago, which is obviously, legally all that is required, but in this day of political correctness, ethically, I believe such disclosures should at least be made upon becoming a member of government!

    Then to make matters worse, what about this comment from Sen. Lundy's parliamentary reply to Mr Bruem -

    "I will continue to pursue Telstra and its officers"!

    Not endeavour to improve telecommunications, for all Australian's; but "pursue Telstra"! - Hmmm! Sounds like the words of Mr. Forman!

    It seems those who aren't willing to just say hang on a minute - are simply those who hate Telstra, for what ever reason. But as aptly mentioned by "Anon - hypocrites", if the roles were reversed and Telstra had a Senator in the family, you'd all be screaming and shouting for heads to roll!

    Happy Telstra pursuing Mr and Mrs Forman-Lundy!
  • Public????????

    Public knowledge? Well I'm a member of the public and I didn't know! And I follow telecoms issues through whirlpool, nwat, ZD, itwire etc, regularly. Although on the Senate's records, I'd bet 99% of the actual public, even those like me who follow the issues, didn't know either! So did you know Keith? Of course you did!
  • Stooges

    You and Sydney must be related then. He's a Telstra stooge and you are just a plain everyday stooge!
  • Same old story really

    Telstra, their paid and volunteer representatives always resort to child-like behaviour when they find the going a little hard.

    Telstra currently rank at the bottom of the pond with the NSW Government in relation to their ability, or lack of it, to manage their operations.

    The good news is that we can vote Labor out. Telstra's Amigos - different story. They are stuck on us for as long as they remain committed to reappointing each other at the end of their tenures.
  • Family fortune?

    SJT how articulately and honestly you present the facts of the Lundy affair. We all have our opinions and points of view, but my question is was Senator Lundy using our Parliament for personal gain, considering her husbands employment in a position that gains from the disparagement of Telstra?