ACT News


Fears tower may be on its last leg

TELSTRA considered selling Black Mountain Tower, closing it to the public or refurbishing the ageing structure last year as allegations were made that rundown services and electrical faults posed a threat to staff and public safety.

A spokesman from the communications giant said the company was committed to the Telstra tower and had no intention of selling it.

‘‘We review all of our property assets on a regular basis and look at the commercial options available to us,’’ the spokesman said. But the paper trail, seen by Fairfax Media, also reveals the telco is keen to increase its profits, and is seeking to make an additional $500,000 from the tower this financial year.

The new budget led to tension between Telstra and the building manager of the tower, who expressed concerns about a report into the state of the elevator system.

The 2008 report recommended a major upgrade to the elevator system within five years – at an estimated cost of $1 million – work that was yet to be done as of last September.

The building manager also noted that action had been taken on only one recommendation of a 2003 fire engineering analysis and risk assessment by Warrington Fire Research and warned that a half-million-dollar increase to the bottom line would not be easy to absorb.


"We don’t believe this can be achieved without putting at risk essential services and/or security of the facility."

The building manager said the profit increase could only be achieved by increasing incomes, reducing expenses or a combination of both, and suggested increasing conference facilities, broadcast licence fees, selling naming rights to the tower and advertising on viewing galleries.

Reducing roving security guards would save the telco $100,000 a year but the building manager did not recommend the move.

"Please note that removing the roving guard is not Raine and Horne’s recommendation and is not a risk that Raine and Horne could wear given our liability under our current management arrangement with Telstra."

The papers showed Telstra was forecast to make $690,000 from tourism at the tower this financial year. An interview request with Telstra area manager Chris Taylor was declined, and in an emailed statement the spokesman said the company was investing in the tower and that there was no plan at the moment to increase admission prices.

"The fact that we have invested $200,000 to update the tower over the past four months, and have further works planned for the conference centre this year, shows we are committed to its future," the spokesman said.

"Regarding facilities and safety standards, the tower and its surrounds are in safe and working order and maintained in accordance with the relevant laws and building standards."