Telstra; Democrats; Senate; Bob Carr; financial markets

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Telstra; Democrats; Senate; Bob Carr; financial markets


Doorstop Interview
Tuesday, 30 July 2002


SUBJECTS: Telstra; Democrats; Senate; Bob Carr; financial markets


…there’s a Cabinet meeting (inaudible) the Government (inaudible) the sale

of the rest of Telstra?


Well obviously we’ll be discussing the developments in service levels. And

it is the Government’s policy to improve services in rural and regional Australia

in particular. And once services are up to the standard which people expect,

and which Telstra should be delivering, then we will be in a position to look

at offering further equity.


Another inquiry into services, can we expect anything on that today?


Well I don’t know what is going to be discussed today, but I am sure that as

Telstra improves its services it will be necessary to actually benchmark the

improvements that have been made, and after we are satisfied that improvements

have been made we will be in a position to put forward legislation and offer

people the chance to have some equity in Telstra, some additional equity.


…Democrats, Treasurer, does it give you some sort of hope that a further

sale is possible with the problems within the Democrats at the moment?


The only thing I would say about the situation in the Democrats is, the Democrats

started their position on the basis that they would negotiate and improve legislation.

I think that’s when the Democrats were at their best. That was the concept of

a third party balance of power, to negotiate and improve legislation. Where

you have a situation where they just oppose everything a government does it

is not good for them and it’s not good for Australia. A government is elected

to govern, a third party has a right to scrutinise legislation. At the end of

the day a government should be allowed to govern. It should be allowed to put

in place its budget measures. And the Democrats, when they were exercising balance

of power politics, I think were in a much stronger position.


How are the negotiation skills of Meg Lees and Andrew Murray?


Well, they are very tough negotiators, I can tell you, because I have negotiated

with them.


Would you like to re-visit the 20 per cent of tax reform that you didn’t get

through with them the first time?


Well, it’s all gone now. We have been there, we put it to the Australian people,

we won an election. It’s not fair, really, to blame the Democrats for stopping

that full tax plan from going through. It was the Labor party, really, that

began the tactics of negative opportunism in the Senate. And they didn’t have

the capacity to show any leadership on the issue, and it was really Labor and

negative oppositionism that created those conditions. It is the same for Labor

on Telstra. Now we have the Labor Party talking about re-nationalising part

of Telstra and selling off the profitable bits, and dismembering it, and I think

they got some good advice yesterday from Mr Bob Carr. Mr Bob Carr, the Premier

of New South Wales, told them that as services improve they should support the

Government’s position. Mr Bob Carr told them, remember, that Rollback was dead.

He sent John Della Bosca down to Canberra to tell them to give up Rollback.

He was right then, he’s right now about Telstra, it’s just a pity that the Labor

Party is led by someone as negative and as oppositionist as Simon Crean.


Wall Street bounced back last night. Do you think the crisis is over?


Look, it’s a very difficult situation, world markets, they are very volatile.

And, you know, I welcome improvement, but I think what the market is looking

for, is it’s looking for signs that accounting practices have been cleaned up,

that corporate governance in the United States is going to be firm and secure,

and that investors have confidence to come back in to the market.