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  • Blog, Telecommunications - Written by on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 11:32 - 17 Comments

    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.

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    1. BruceH
      Posted 23/10/2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink | Reply

      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.

    2. PointZeroOne
      Posted 23/10/2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink | Reply



    3. Adam Nelson
      Posted 23/10/2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

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

    4. tinman_au
      Posted 23/10/2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      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).

      • Quiet Observer
        Posted 23/10/2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

        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.

        • Observer
          Posted 24/10/2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink | Reply

          “unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability.”

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

      • Rohan
        Posted 23/10/2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink | Reply


        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. Brendan
      Posted 23/10/2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

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

    6. Soth
      Posted 23/10/2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Isn’t there some sort of system/body setup to stop this from happening? o_O

      • Karl
        Posted 23/10/2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

        ASIC, I believe.

        • tinman_au
          Posted 23/10/2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I’m not sure ASIC cover GSE’s.

    7. Kevin Cobley
      Posted 23/10/2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      There’s an accountability solution for politicians, the noose.

    8. Duke
      Posted 23/10/2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      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…

    9. Tom
      Posted 23/10/2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

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

      • PeterA
        Posted 24/10/2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink | Reply

        Yep; time to buy Telstra it sounds like! Sure bet!

    10. Northern Blue
      Posted 24/10/2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink | Reply

      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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