T3, the sell-off of the rest of Telstra, has been causing all sorts of problems for the Howard Government. After an extended period of cabinet indecision, at 5pm on Friday, right when Henry was tucking into well-deserved after-work drinks, John Howard revealed that $8 billion worth of shares will be sold in October or November, with the remainder of the Government’s share in Telstra (around $14.5 billion) to be placed in the Future Fund. It was an inauspicious move for the Government, especially considering the sale of Telstra has been one of Howard’s policy babies since he was elected over ten years ago.

Earlier in the year, Phil Burgess directed a veiled threat at the Federal Government that the Telstra board could sway elections by mobilising its enormous — and mostly out-of-pocket — shareholder base. The front page of today’s Oz indicates that the mobilisation may have officially started, with Telstra commissioning the Liberal Party’s own pollsters to carry out polling “in preparation for an aggressive political campaign”. Henry didn’t receive a call, but apparently shareholders were asked about their opinions on Government regulations and their impact on share prices.

Read more at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey