No Telstra fire sale

Despite a sweeping win at the polls on the weekend and a likely majority in the Senate which would give the government total legislative control in both houses of parliament, the IT and Communications Minister Helen Coonan told media today there would be no Telstra fire sale.

Such a decisive election win means the government can move ahead with the sale of Telstra without being blocked by Labor or the independents in the Senate.

However, Senator Coonan said there was no rush to offload the government's remaining holding in Telstra.

She told the AAP news service that the government wanted to make sure recommendations from the Estens Inquiry into telecommunications services in the bush were met before any sale went ahead.

"We are not interested in a fire sale, so we will have time to make sure the Estens inquiry recommendations are met," Coonan said adding that the government is keen to make sure there is value for shareholders.

As well as fulfilling the recommendations of the Estens inquiry, Telstra's share price is also likely to influence when the government decides to sell its stake in Australia's biggest telecommunications company.

But the sale is likely to continue to be opposed by Labor, the Australian Greens, the Australian Democrats, some members of the Nationals, farmers and consumer groups.

The conservative political group Family First, which is poised to gain a Senate seat in Victoria, also opposes the sale.

Family First federal leader Andrea Mason told ABC radio earlier today, "We do not support a full sale of Telstra."

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Sandra Rossi

Computerworld
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