Sol Trujillo’s “Amigos” certainly
provide plenty of good copy, and Phil Burgess is the star
turn.

Phil, of course, was the bloke who
told the world he’d advise his mum not to buy Telstra shares. Given his
position as a Telstra insider, just as well you didn’t advise her to buy, hey
Phil? Now he has shifted his laser-like
gaze onto the Australian Government.

As John Rolfe reports in today’s
Herald Sun:

Meet one of the leaders of Australia’s newest political force –
the Telstra Party.

Phil Burgess, the telco’s head of
communications and public policy, has made a veiled threat to the Federal
Government that it could sway elections by mobilising its enormous – and mostly
out-of-pocket – shareholder base… Mr Burgess said in a speech in Sydney yesterday Telstra shareholders represented 1.6
million of Australia’s 8.2 million
households. “So it’s a very large number of households,” Mr Burgess said.

“Then if you start allocating those
by parliamentary district – of course, we wouldn’t do that.
But you get to see that in some
places you can have a very important impact. We want our shareholders to know
what’s going on – not just financially. We want our shareholders to know
what’s going on socially, politically and economically – and how social,
economic and political forces affect their share
value.”

The
last episode like this that Henry can recall is when the
government-owned Commonwealth Bank refused to help a Labor Government with
its policies to alleviate the severity of the Great Depression. Then in
1949 the private banks successfully fought the Labor Government’s plans
to nationalise them. So Mr Burgess’s plans are not entirely original,
but you’d think a smart American would know it is very hard to fight
City Hall, especially when the proposition is to get changes that allow
a company to increase profits at the expense of customers.

Roy Morgan Single Source Survey data
confirms that Telstra shareholders represent 1.6 million Australian electors.
For the record, comparable number of electors who own shares for other major
Australian companies are AMP 900k, CBA 740k, Coles Myer 600k, Nab 430k and BHP
Billiton 375k. 49% of Telstra share owners have told the Morgan Poll they vote for the
Coalition (46% Liberal, only 3% Nationals), 32% say they vote Labor, 7% Greens,
6% others and 6% are undecided.

Read more at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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