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Government tries to save itself and privatise Telstra.

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Stephen Smith - Government Tries To Save Itself And Privatise Telstra Monday, 23 April 2001

Government Tries To Save Itself And Privatise Telstra Stephen Smith - Shadow Minister for Communications

Media Statement - 19 April 2001

Shadow Minister for Communications, Stephen Smith, said today that yesterday's Cabinet decisions only showed that the Howard-Anderson Government is desperately trying to save both itself and the National Party while persisting with the full privatisation of Telstra.

Yesterday, Cabinet considered the Howard-Anderson Government's response to the Besley Inquiry Report, the ACCC's report on price controls and Telstra's proposed announcement of new call zone arrangements.

"While each of these announcements are likely to bring benefits," Mr Smith said, "none of them will fully address the ongoing need to ensure equity in the delivery of telecommunications services across Australia. The retention of majority government ownership of Telstra is essential to that.

"Australians living in outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australia will be not fooled. At the end of the day, they know that the Howard Government doesn't have a plan to improve communications services across Australia,. The Howard-Anderson Government only has a plan to try and save itself and the National Party and to fully privatise Telstra.

Mr Smith also said that the Howard-Anderson Government should now be honest in next month's Budget and show precisely what effect the delay in the full privatisation of Telstra will have on both next year's Budget and the forward estimates.

"If the Government's legislation to fully privatise Telstra is not introduced until after the next election there is no way that more of Telstra could be sold in the first half of next year as currently projected in the Budget," Mr Smith said.

"Yesterday's Cabinet decision to merely delay the full privatisation of Telstra - and not to abandon it all together - will also be deeply disappointing to people living in rural and regional Australia. Once again, the National Party have proved themselves to be 'Cowards in Canberra', betraying regional Australia and allowing the Liberals to persist with their ideological obsession with the full privatisation of Telstra.

"Australians don't want Telstra sold, nor do they want a plan that is merely designed to save the Government and the National Party's hide. They want a genuine and sustained plan to improve telecommunications services across Australia - only a Beazley Labor Government will deliver that," Mr Smith concluded. Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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