Australian former monopoly operator Telstra has posted its best ever net profit, retaining its status as the country’s most profitable company. For the year to June 2005 net income stood at AUD4.5 billion (USD3.3 billion), up 8% on the corresponding period last year and above analysts’ expectations of AUD4.3 billion. Sales rose 3.7% to AUD21.5 billion, with growth from Telstra’s mobile and internet divisions (8% and 36% respectively) more than offsetting the 3% slump in traditional fixed line telephony. In spite of the buoyant results, the company warned that earnings in the current fiscal year were likely to decline due to intensifying competition. The results come as the government finalises plans to sell of its 51.8% stake in the telco. Prime Minister John Howard will discuss privatisation with Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo today, with the Cabinet due to meet next week to consider the sale. Opposition to the sale continues to exist, including from within the coalition government. Senator Barnaby Joyce, amongst others, has threatened to vote against the plan unless there are guarantees relating to quality of service for rural customers.