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Turnbull to trial global SIM to avoid bill shock

Australia's Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull will avoid bill shock on his next overseas trip thanks to a global SIM.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

In his updated Members' Interests statement, the member for Wentworth, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has admitted to taking on a global wi-fi hotspot to be able to use data while overseas.

Last month, ZDNet revealed that Turnbull had repaid a massive of AU$13,608.04 for use of his mobile device after a stint in Hong Kong, France, Germany, and the UK in late 2011. The bill had originally been charged to the taxpayer, however Turnbull paid the full amount back and was left to negotiate with Telstra over the size of the bill.

Turnbull has not yet confirmed with ZDNet whether his negotiations with Telstra over his massive bill have been finalised, but it's unlikely the shadow minister will be stung with a massive roaming bill the next time he is overseas.

In the most recent update of his declaration on the Register of Members' Interests on January 31, Turnbull said that he received a "GlobalGig wi-fi base station" with 1GB of data allowance, which he intends to trial on his next visit abroad.

The declaration also revealed that Turnbull is also loaning a T-box from Telstra and a 4G wi-fi hotspot from Optus, which is currently used by his staff. The loan of devices is not that unusual for a telco. The companies frequently loan out devices to journalists and reviewers.

The declarations of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Finance Minister Penny Wong also reveal that the pair received a Samsung Galaxy tablet — the specific model is not mentioned — from Virgin Australia. Gillard surrendered her tablet to the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, while Wong said she kept the tablet and paid the difference between the allowable limit of gifts and the value of the tablet to the Receiver of Public Monies.

The declarations came under scrutiny this week as Communications Minister Stephen Conroy updated his to include a 2005 visit to the apartment of former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid. Conroy said that he was not aware at the time that the apartment was owned by Obeid, who is currently the subject of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry.

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