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Thursday, 17 October 1996
Page: 4348

Senator MARGETTS —by leave—I present to the Senate the following petition, from 1,299 citizens, which is not in conformity with the standing orders as it is not in the correct form:

We, the undersigned, oppose the proposed part-sale of Telstra, Australia's national telecommunications carrier.

In 1995 Telstra made a $1.75 billion after-tax profit, paying the Federal Government $1.5 billion in taxes and dividends.

Profits from public enterprises help fund public education, public health, environmental repair, public transport and other necessary community services.

Privatisation of public enterprises means less government funds, and therefore more fees and charges for education, health and other essential community services.

Telstra is one of the largest employers in Australia, with over 70,000 full-time workers employed. Privatisation will mean job cuts, higher charges and increased pressure on the remaining workforce to work harder and longer.

A Telstra sell-off will increase pressure to:

(a) introduce timed local calls, and

(b) scrap the cross-subsidised services which keep prices down for people in remote areas.

A partial sell-off of Telstra will undermine and reduce its revenue base, forcing a total sell-off at a later date. We, the public, will lose the benefit of Telstra's long-term profitability for a short-term gain.

Environmental programs can be funded by cutting Australia's massive $10 billion annual military spending and by eliminating tax avoidance.