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Nationals Member and Queensland Farmers Federation want to show Telstra CEO the problems in rural and regional areas.

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Tuesday 2 August 2005

Nationals Member and Queensland Farmers Federation want to show Telstra CEO the problems in rural and regional areas


TONY EASTLEY: After a month in t he job, Sol Trujillo the new Chief Executive of Telstra heads out of the big city today to visit a small part of regional and rural Australia. 


The Telstra chief's first stop is the northern New South Wales town of Lismore, where by coincidence, the Nationals are debating the sell-off of the Government's remaining shares in Telstra. 


From there Mr Trujillo goes to Queensland where his trip will be tightly controlled, as Stephanie Kennedy reports from Canberra. 


STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Sol Trujillo took over the reins of Telstra four weeks ago. Since then he's axed jobs, argued for winding back the competition laws and through one of his executives said that Telstra's obligation to provide basic phone services in the bush is unsustainable. 


Today, for the first time since he took on the job, Mr Trujillo will venture out of the boardroom and into the bush. His first stop is regional New South Wales and the town of Lismore on the state's north coast. 


But he won't be talking to any of the Nationals who are in town including the new federal leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile. 


The two haven't yet met and there are no plans for Mr Trujillo to speak to any of the other federal National MPs and senators in Lismore for a two day meeting where the issue of the full sale of Telstra is being hotly debated. 


The Telstra chief has a full agenda. He'll meet some of his staff and dine with members of Telstra's Country Wide Advisory board. 


Chair of that board is Jenny Russell. She lives in Queensland near Blackall in the central west of the state, and it's her property Mr Trujillo will spend three hours at tomorrow. 


The station the Telstra chief will visit is right in the middle of Bruce Scott's electorate, the Federal National MP. 


BRUCE SCOTT: I want to show him some of the communications challenges in front of us out in Western Queensland, and I'm certainly looking forward to having a discussion with him on Wednesday out in my own constituency, where I believe we've got a great forum. And of course the fact that he is coming out to see us is I think… he is to be commended. 


STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Wes Judd from the Queensland Farmers' Federation lives in the same electorate, and he hopes the Telstra chief might hear first hand about some of the problems Australians living in the bush have with Telstra. 


WES JUDD: Uh, well I think he can expect to find services and facilities that are there for sure, however there's certainly inequity in the reliability of that service, the speed of the service, and certainly, I suppose, the choice in the service. 


And rural people battle continually with also some services that just aren't available to them. So I think a mix of all of those put together, which often puts rural people at a severe disadvantage. 


STEPHANIE KENNEDY: You're currently on a mobile phone and the reception isn't very good. Is that quite a common problem? 


WES JUDD: That is a common problem and we battle with that continually, and drop outs on mobile phones is a thing that we have to learn to live with. And we… certainly in my own case, where I am, I have to travel down the road to get service in a car kit with a fairly major aerial on a vehicle.  


So that's a common occurrence throughout Australia and people within the cities don't even realise that these sort of things go on in this day and age, to have basic telecommunication which the rest of the population enjoys. 


TONY EASTLEY: Wes Judd from the Queensland Farmers' Federation on the phone there ending that story from Stephanie Kennedy.