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Anderson would see a fully privatised Telstra sold to foreign interests.



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Stephen Smith - Anderson Would See A Fully Privatised Telstra Sold To Foreign Interests http://www.alp.org.au//media/0701/ssmstel230701.html Tuesday, 24 July 2001

Anderson Would See A Fully Privatised Telstra Sold To Foreign Interests Stephen Smith - Shadow Minister for Communications

Media Statement - 23 July 2001

Shadow Minister for Communications Stephen Smith said today that the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National Party John Anderson had signalled yesterday that he would not stand in the way of Telstra being both fully privatised and sold to foreign interests.

On Channel Nine's Sunday program yesterday, Mr Anderson said:

…the other point I'd make is this question of public ownership, you know, we don't own a car factory but we're able to effectively say before you register and sell motor cars on the Australian market they have to meet certain minimum standards. We do it very effectively. You can do the same with Telstra through the universal service obligation and the customer service guarantee.

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Mr Anderson made it clear yesterday that he has no philosophical objection to the full privatisation of Telstra and that, like our car manufacturing industry, he has no objection to Telstra ultimately being owned and controlled by foreign interests," Mr Smith said.

"Any promise by the Howard-Anderson Government to place foreign ownership restrictions on a fully privatised Telstra will just be just another 'never-ever' tricky device designed to secure a one-off flog-off of our national carrier.

"Unlike Mr Anderson, Labor believes that ownership does matter. Why? Because the relationship between the Government as majority shareholder and Telstra is important if services in outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australia are to be maintained and improved.

"Deputy Leader of the National Party Mark Vaile recently recognised the importance of this relationship when he said on Channel Seven's Sunday Sunrise on 17 June this year that:

One of the elements that has come through loud and clear at this conference here in Albury is the significant improvements that we have been able to make in telecommunications to county Australia. That has been welcomed. We've worked very actively with the Country Wide division of Telstra in doing that.

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"And on the same day, on Channel Nine's Sunday program, Communications Minister Richard Alston sought to take credit for Telstra's decision to announce additional call pricing options," Mr Smith said.

"The Government can only claim credit for the actions of Telstra if the Government retains majority ownership of it.

"People living in outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australia know that the Government will lose the special relationship that comes with majority ownership, if Telstra is fully privatised.

"Commonsense tells you that a fully privatised Telstra will care more about profits than people and that services will suffer.

"Majority Government ownership of Telstra is vital to ensure that services in outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australia are maintained and improved in the long-term.

"Australians know that, if re-elected, the Howard-Anderson Government will flog off the rest of Telstra, it's in their Budget.

"If Australians want to stop the full privatisation of Telstra then they should vote for a Beazley Labor Government," Mr Smith concluded. Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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