A senior business journalist rang on
Friday to say that Telstra insiders were claiming my new bro, Big Phil
Burgess, was going to receive a bonus for “getting Crikey onside”. A
little harmless fun hardly makes us “onside”. Crikey is simply
extending a helping hand to a little known website that deserves a bit
more attention.

Sadly, the Crikey army let me down a bit on
Thursday, because that plug to 35,000 people imploring them to visit Telstra’s rarely viewed and highly unusual nowwearetalking.com.au only generated an extra 400 visits. Big Phil’s follow-up email read as follows:

The good news – for you and us: Our webmeister reports a 65% lift in our visitor numbers yesterday.

The
bad news: The increase was about 400 of your 35,000. What is going on?
I figure we should get at least 10%, given your influence – that would
be 3,500 extra…or 3,100 SHORT!

You should at the minimum get
2% (the response rate for a typical mailed survey). That would give us
700. You are 300 short there, mate. Don’t let me down on this. I know
it has only been a day, but still….

Ok, let’s try
again. Here are some direct links which you should visit to see the
more interesting and novel things on the site which cost Telstra
shareholders and taxpayers $60,000 to establish:

  • The big attack on Telstra’s regulatory burdens.
  • The Phil Burgess presentation at the “Is the AGM dead?” symposium
  • The Telstra cartoonist – our guru Mark Cornwall is certainly not under threat of losing his status as Australia’s best online cartoonist.
  • The Rod Bruem blog – what other PR boss in Australia does this?
  • How Telstra’s man in FNQ is helping clean up after Cyclone Larry.

Meanwhile,
Big Phil has made it clear he sees Australia as a strictly short-term
option. Like his mate Sol Trujillo, Burgess is on the advisory board of
the School of Public Affairs at UCLA. But Telstra’s highly-paid Group
Managing Director of Public Policy and Communications evidently
regards the telco as his second string. His UCLA entry described
Burgess firstly firstly as President of the Annapolis Institute and
secondly, as: “Temporary: Group Managing Director of Public Policy,
Communications and Corporate Affairs for the Telstra Corporation.”

Is
Big Phil about to get the flick or did he tell UCLA to describe his
Telstra gig as “temporary” because he’ll be voluntarily heading home
once T3 is done and dusted, or before?

He certainly is one out of the box. Lateline
host Tony Jones described him as “a breath of fresh air” at last week’s
forums to discuss the AGM, so don’t be surprised if he pops up on
Aunty’s late night current affairs show sometime soon. That’ll further
annoy those precious souls inside the Howard Government, as they’re
still apparently seething over Phil’s comment about not recommending
Telstra shares to his mother.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW