According to Communications Minister Helen Coonan, Telstra is trying to engineer a win for the Opposition in the upcoming election -- and the telco's execs should run for Labor MPs.
Coonan told the Senate yesterday: "I will tell the Senate something else for free. I predict that Telstra will try to meddle in the upcoming election with one aim in mind: to get Labor into power and then demand that competitors be driven from the field."
According to the Minister, Labor has already been attempting to sideline the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) by arranging its own inquiries into matters that would normally be left to the regulator to investigate, including a recent examination of broadband costs.
"The problem with Labor's latest stunt is that the ACCC already do this job. They have done it for years and they are expert at it. By announcing its own process, Labor has made it crystal clear that part of its deal with Telstra is to cut the ACCC out of the picture," Coonan continued.
The Minister also called for the telco and its US top-tier of execs to openly express their support for Labor.
"I say to [Telstra CEO] Mr Trujillo, [Telstra head of public policy and communications] Dr Burgess and all the others who pass for Telstra executives: if you want to meddle in Australian politics, get it out in the open, stand for Labor preselection and actually bring it on -- you had just better stand for Australian citizenship first," she said.
Trujillo recently told an investors conference in New York that the company would be no worse off under a Labor government than it is now.
The relationship between Coonan and Telstra has grown increasingly frostier in recent weeks. Telstra has launched two lawsuits against the Minister; while Coonan has moved to block Telstra from closing its CDMA mobile network without government permission.
Telstra has also found itself on the wrong side of the ACCC this week, when the regulator announced it will be taking the telco to court over ads publicising its Next G network.