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Coalition gains Senate control -

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Coalition gains Senate control

Reporter: Narda Gilmore

TONY JONES: Nearly three weeks after the election it's finally official - from next July the
Coalition will control the Senate.

It's the first time in more than 20 years that a government has controlled both houses of
parliament - a power John Howard has promised not to abuse.

Already the full sale of Telstra is back on the Government's agenda but new National Party Senator
Barnaby Joyce could present a hurdle, warning that the telco isn't yet fit for sale.

From Canberra Narda Gilmore reports.

NARDA GILMORE: Nineteen days after his election victory, John Howard has another reason to
celebrate.

RON BOSWELL, NATIONAL PARTY: Prime Minister, you just have control of the Senate.

NARDA GILMORE: A computer in Brisbane delivered the verdict on the deciding Senate seat and the
National Party's Senate leader Ron Boswell wasted no time in letting the Prime Minister know the
Coalition had won an outright majority.

RON BOSWELL: You've got it open, OK.

NARDA GILMORE: Ron Boswell insisted that didn't mean open slather, a prospect John Howard's been
quick to play down.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: It's a very good outcome, but I want to assure the Australian people
that the Government will use its majority in the new Senate very carefully, very wisely.

CHRIS EVANS, OPPOSITION SENATE LEADER: I'm fearful the Government will abuse their power.

Power unchecked is generally power abused.

NARDA GILMORE: The deciding Senate seat in Queensland went to the National's Barnaby Joyce.

From July next year the Coalition will hold 39 seats in the Senate, Labor keeps its 28, the Greens
have four, the Democrats four, and Family First one.

It's been 24 years since a government's had control of both houses.

It will allow the Government to bring back any legislation previously blocked in the Senate.

High on the Coalition's agenda are changes to industrial relations laws, media ownership laws and
the full sale of Telstra.

PETER COSTELLO, TREASURER: We've announced previously that it's our belief that the ownership of
Telstra has to be resolved.

NARDA GILMORE: But it might not be that simple.

As John Anderson pointed out last week, National Party senators will have their own views.

JOHN ANDERSON, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: You've got a great little team over there now and they're
going to be extremely influential.

NARDA GILMORE: As Barnaby Joyce has set out to prove, he's already made his views on Telstra clear.

BARNABY JOYCE, NATIONALS SENATOR ELECT: We won't be agreeing to any sale till services are up to
scratch and at this point in time we don't feel that they're up to scratch.

NARDA GILMORE: A feeling echoed at Telstra's annual general meeting in Melbourne today, with
complaints from shareholders about service standards especially in regional areas.

The telco's new chairman, Donald McGauchie, believes services have improved, and while he says it's
a Government decision, full privatisation would have benefits.

DONALD McGAUCHIE, TELSTRA CHAIRMAN: There are a couple of issues where I think shareholders would
benefit from it.

It would take some uncertainty out of the market place that currently exists and that would be of
value.

NARDA GILMORE: Mr McGauchie says the current ownership structure reduces Telstra's financial
flexibility.

Narda Gilmore, Lateline.