Sale of Telstra unpopular with city?s residents

By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.com.au

THERE appears to be little local support for the federal government's decision to sell the last tranche of Telstra.

Widespread concern has been raised that the sale was simply selling off of a profitable government asset for a short-term return.

Yesterday the decision to sell Telstra announced by Prime Minister John Howard was widely opposed.

Mr Howard said: '(The sale) provides a very important addition to a process which the government has undertaken since it was elected of improving telecommunications all around Australia.'

Gladstone's ABN-Amro Morgan's Lewis Fellowes said although the sale "may be a positive thing from the investors' point of view'', it was not so good for consumers.

'For them it's the same as when the Commonwealth Bank was sold ? Telstra will go online and deliver less services and you will pay for it,' he said.

Mr Fellowes questioned why the sale had to occur in the first place.

'In the short term they'll get a lump sum for it but, like the Commonwealth Bank, they're killing the goose that lays the golden egg.'

Grazier John Williams, a former candidate for the Liberal Party, opposed the sale.

'While it was government run there was a fair chance of putting pressure on it to get better service ? privately owned there would be little chance of that,' he said.

He said he was disappointed in the Liberal Government for promoting the sale and as for the Nationals' support of the sale, 'they are just the toe-toys of the Liberals'.

Federal Member for Hinkler Paul Neville yesterday said competition for Telstra would mean increased service.

Mr Neville added that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) would have its powers extended to ensure quality service to customers.



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