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Monday, 26 March 2001
Page: 25580

Mr BEAZLEY (2:35 PM) —My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, and it is further to the question I asked him a few minutes ago. Deputy Prime Minister, what commitment on Telstra privatisation will you take to the next election for the next term of government should you be elected? Will you privatise it—yes or no?

Mr ANDERSON (Deputy Prime Minister) —The government has made it perfectly plain that any further sale of Telstra is conditional upon us addressing and discharging our responsibilities in relation to the findings of the Besley inquiry that we set up. Their only response to it was to seek to denigrate three very fine Australians we asked to go out there. They are about as high a quality as possible but, no, they did not like it.

Mr Beazley —Will you or won't you?

Mr ANDERSON —You can dish it out but you cannot take it. We have made it quite plain—

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr ANDERSON —It is true. That is all they did—just denigrate the three fine Australians we asked to report on the state of telecommunications in the bush. They gave us an honest answer about what needed to be done, and we have said that any further sale is conditional upon us addressing those concerns. I would have thought that that was a very strong policy position for anyone who was genuinely interested in service outcomes in rural Australia.