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Telstra/environment « Previous | |Next »
October 29, 2003

The full privatisation of Telstra is back. It's like a merry go round. There one minute, gone the next, then back again. The Howard Government expects things to be all sorted out by Xmas?

This time around there has been a shift. Andrew Murray, the rebellious Democrat senator, speaks out. He would find selling Telstra compelling if the government decided to invest a large part of the Testra sale proceeds on tackling salinity and land degradation. That's pretty much Meg Lees nation building position, that she put on the agenda a year or so ago. Nation building included lots of money for the River Murray.

The two Senators qualified this stance by adding that governance measures to rein in Telstra's market power and giving the regulator stronger competition powers are needed.

That starts to make cash for the environment the key to the sale of Telstra. Since the Howard government continues to talk in terms of using the Telstra sale proceeds to pay off the public debt the debate has shifted to how best to spend the money.

Cash is really needed to restore the health of the River Murray and the Murray-Darling Basin. It appears that the Howard government will not make in moves in clawing back water from irrigators for the 1500 gigalitres required for environmental flows. It talks in terms of outcomes for iconic sites (eg., Chowilla floodplain or the Coorong wetlands) and not environmental flows. It is also only talking in terms of a putting a few hundred million on the table, not the $1.5 billion that the 1500 gigalitres would require. These are nice and easy steps that would not put the irrigators off side. They are going to have to be put offside at some point since water has to be clawed back for environmental flows.

Meanwhile the hard line anti-green neo-liberals continue to talk in terms of the green religion overtaking science; or the green religion corrupting the policy debate; or the greens misleading the public with their gloom and doom stories; or the greens failing to back up their outrageous claims with hard data. They see themselves as radicals who have the courage to question the accepted wisdom on the environment by saying no to ecologically sustainable development. That mode of development places constraints on their profit making. The shift to sustainability is not required because the environment is on the mend in the basin.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:18 PM | | Comments (4)
Comments

Comments

Highly unlikely is any affirmative sale decision on telstra before the end of 2003, according to the political pundits I listen to.

Niall,
I concur with the judgement of your political pundits.

It is not the sale per se that is the interest: the focus of the debate shoudl be on what we are going to do with the money from the sale.

until telstra no longer has a virual monopoly on the australian market, and considering your post "screwing the customer? (30 October)", i should think that the sale of telstra should be of serious concern whether it's going to happen anyway, or not..

Kez,
The sale of Telstra is of serious concern. Many in regonal Australia are without internet access and they can only realitically obtain it through satellite.

That is pretty expensive and only available to those with successful businesses.

But only those in remote Australia have a subsidy.It excludes most in regional Australia who are without phone lines.

Telstra is not addressing the problem. It is not really concerned with the public good as it is more concerned with acting like a gorilla in the markeplace.