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Cowan breaks ranks and calls for a halt to Telstra privatisation.

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Stephen Smith MP

Member for Perth

Shadow Minister for Communications



Monday March 15th 1999


Cowan breaks ranks and calls for a halt to Telstra privatisation


Senior National Party figure and Western Australian Deputy Premier Hendy Cowan has called on the Federal Government to abandon its plan to further privatise Telstra.


Mr Cowan’s comments follow the admission yesterday by Communications Minister Alston that part privatisation would have no fundamental effect on Telstra’s business.


On ABC Radio this morning Mr Cowan said:


“In respect to Telstra, what the Federal Government needs to do is perhaps step back from selling off its assets and step right into the issue of determining the rules by which all service providers must deliver ... to rural Australia”


Labor welcomes Mr Cowan’s comments, following as they do evidence presented by the Western Australian Government to the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Committee about telecommunications service levels:


“In recent times, (Telstra) has been unable to keep up with the pace of growing consumer requirements, and expressed consumer needs. Its ability to keep up with maintenance appears to have deteriorated”

WA Government submission to Senate Committee 3/2/99.


More generally, available evidence to date indicates that service levels to rural and regional areas have declined since the privatisation of the first third of Telstra.


If service levels cannot be met under a one-third privatised Telstra, how can service levels be guaranteed if Commonwealth ownership is further diluted?


Senator Harradine doesn’t trust the Government, Hendy Cowan wants the Government to step back, so how can the people of rural and regional Australia trust the Government’s promises about service levels?


Media Contact:

Perth: Stephen Smith (08) 9377 3355 

Canberra: Patrick Bindon 0415 694 878


NB: Mr Smith is available for interview in Perth.