Telstra sale clears first hurdle

11 Mar 2004

The Australian parliament’s lower house has approved a government plan to sell its majority stake in telecoms giant Telstra, but the bill still faces likely rejection when it comes before the opposition-controlled upper house of the Senate. The sale of a 51% stake in Telstra has already been turned down once by the upper house and a number of senators have indicated that a second attempt will yield a similar result. The main criticism of the plan is that a fully privatised Telstra could not be counted on to provide adequate services to Australia’s vast rural population. Whilst the telco has since vowed to implement recommendations from an official panel on improvements in this area, the deal has taken on an additional political dimension ahead of this year’s general elections due to the likely AUS30 billion windfall that a sale would provide to state coffers.