Southern Phone sale approved by Wollongong council, despite concerns about 'fishy' deal - Illawarra Greens

Southern Phone sale approved by Wollongong council, despite concerns about 'fishy' deal

A majority voted to approve the sale of the council's two shares, which will rake in about $875,000 for the city budget. But Greens councillors Mithra Cox and Cath Blakey voted against the deal.

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 19 November 2019.

Southern Phone sale approved by Wollongong council, despite concerns about 'fishy' deal

WAY DOWN SOUTH: The telco's only NSW office is its Moruya headquarters. Picture: Claudia Ferguson.
WAY DOWN SOUTH: The telco's only NSW office is its Moruya headquarters. Picture: Claudia Ferguson.

A majority voted to approve the sale of the council's two shares, which will rake in about $875,000 for the city budget. But Greens councillors Mithra Cox and Cath Blakey voted against the deal.

Cr Cox said she thought all councillors would "all agree there was something a little bit fishy" about the sale.

"I do believe there is a significant constituency in Wollongong who are opposed to us selling Southern Phones," she said.

"I've certainly been contacted by customers and the reason they choose to use Southern Phones is because it's the last publicly owned telco we have.

"This seems too good to be true, that we are getting what seems to be a largely inflated price against what we consider to be a fair valuation. I'm also concerned there is a problem with the business model of Southern Phones if they based their business on land lines."

"I am suspicious that there is part of this story that isn't being told."

She also said the council needed the "reasonably significant" dividend which it had received over the years to find work on natural areas within the LGA.

But deputy mayor Tania Brown said she believed the deal represented a good outcome for the council.