An extraordinary stand-off has emerged between Telstra and the federal
government over the provision of basic telephone services, with the telco
rejecting demands that it continue to subsidise rural customers,
reports the Fin Review.
Telstra’s head of regulatory affairs Kate McKenzie, said the universal
service obligation was becoming less and less viable as the company
lost its monopoly powers and ability to cross-subsidise the bush,
prompting deputy prime minister Mark Vaile to issue a statement
declaring the agreement was “not negotiable,”
reports The Age.

NAB’s discovery and admission that it has
unwittingly overcharged tens of thousands of its customers is proof
the bank has improved and is no longer covering up its mistakes,
says chief executive Ahmed Fahour. The bank’s Australian chief told The Age he was proud of his staff for uncovering the
mistakes, saying the investigation that exposed the errors might
not have taken place under previous regimes. Fahour has now been truly initiated as a senior National
Australia Bank figurehead, says Ruth Williams in The Age – he’s made his first public apology for
a rather sizeable stuff-up. NAB bosses have a patchy record at performing the mea culpa.
Indeed, several have preferred to quit than say they were
sorry.

The Australian reports, BHP-Billiton is on track to
post a massive full-year profit of more than $8 billion,
a new Australian record, courtesy of strong commodity demand
underpinned by a gangbusting Chinese economy and major production
expansions.

And The Age reports, veteran corporate adviser Bill Beerworth is calling for a
radical change in Australian law to protect company boards from
shareholder claims against spending money on so-called corporate
social responsibility.

On Wall Street, US stocks closed sharply higher overnight, with the
Nasdaq (up 12.22 points at 2,198) joining the S&P 500 with new
four-year
closing records after strong earnings reports and more upbeat sentiment
about the economy. The Dow Jones rose 68.46 points to 10,705 –
MarketWatch has a full report here.

Peter Fray

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