Conflict of interest: Milne’s $1.5m in Telstra shares


modern business woman holding crossed fingers behind back

blog Dear readers, let me pose you a simple ethical question. If you had spent a decade in a high-profile role at Telstra that netted you $1.5 million worth of shares in the telco, would you consider it a good idea to sell those shares before taking a similarly high-profile role at NBN Co, which is engaged in billion-dollar negotiations with Telstra that could significantly affect Telstra’s share price? It sounds like it would be a good idea to get rid of the shares, right? Right? Wrong, if you’re Justin Milne, who has just taken a role at NBN Co is still holding onto his sizable Telstra stake. The Age reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Mr Milne still owns 305,000 Telstra shares, worth about $1.5 million at Tuesday’s closing price of $5.01, according to a search of the company’s share registry by Fairfax Media on Monday.”

The ethical questions are beginning to become overwhelming for the new NBN Co and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Appointing a new executive chairman to NBN Co that has little experience with network infrastructure rollout and hasn’t held a role in the telco sector for almost a decade. Appointing two other senior executives with little experience with network rollouts, but with close connections to Turnbull personally. Turfing execs with Labor connections from NBN Co. And now glaringly obvious conflict of interest issues. Plus, a refusal by Turnbull to talk about these issues at all. One wonders how someone of Turnbull’s intelligence and experience is allowing this situation to develop as it is. The whole picture is starting to look pretty bad.


  1. Uh-oh. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, T$ was always writing the Earl’s scripts so the outcome of The Earl’s promotion to power was always going to be good for T$. But such a close association of a political appointee to the NBN who also has an interest in the profitability of T$ Shares does look a little off.



  3. Share ownership will just be placed in family name. Like the wife of kids instead of Justin

  4. I share your concern Renai, Tony pretty well lied when he promised “unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability”…

    I think we can pretty well assume we (the Australian people) wont be getting a good outcome from this (“this” being more “snouts in the trough” and “jobs for the boys” from the current government).

    • I think Tony was being completely truthful when he spoke of “unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability.” It’s just that people naively thought that said accountability would be to the electorate, when in fact it is to the LNP’s board of directors. Last I heard, Gina Rinehart held the chair.

      • “unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability.”

        Indeed, what he didn’t specify was that the level would be extremely low.

    • @tinman_au

      Abbott lied? No! how can an “adult” do such a thing?

      Looks like the question Abbott asked regarding who does Australia trust has now been answered – and it’s not Abbott or his LNP goons….

  5. The “unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability” throw-rug is certainly having a lot shoved under it of late.

  6. Dammit, I’ve said it before and will continue to say it… if you want ethical behaviour, no conflicts of interest and selfless service to the public, the solution is obvious:


    They have a proven track record of standing up for their interests, have form in telling governments to gtfo of their business, and tacos are cheap…

  7. So Milne keeping his shares is a good indication that we should be trying to buy Telstra shares right?

  8. It is a conflict of interest for Milne. I guess the focus will be on every decision he makes. Clearly he would be required to abstain from any committee, board, or project management team where he is asked to contribute to the discussion or make a decision either involving or adroitly affecting Telstra. Given that, would he actually be capable of performing his duties as set out in his job description?

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