Lindsay Tanner has probably spent this week trying to decide if he’s unlucky he received so little mileage out of his appearance on Ten’s Meet the Press last Sunday, or whether he’s lucky so few people noticed him using the occasion to make a goose of himself.

Lindsay trotted out a perfectly populist and loopy Telstra plan that sank without trace while Pete “Top Gun” Costello copped headlines everywhere for his meaningless huffing and puffing over Sol Trujillo’s pay packet. If only Lindsay had just made his announcement while executing a barrel roll in a Tiger Moth …

Tanner made the hilarious promise that a Labor government will force the Future Fund to keep its Telstra shares so that the government would be able to “influence” the telco.

“We would seek to use that to seek to influence Telstra’s approach and particularly that Telstra continues to deliver high quality telecommunications infrastructure that’s accessible for all Australians,” says Lindsay.

Ah, the Seekers, 1960s folk group, Georgie Girl, Never Find Another Ewe – and Lindsay Tanner.

The worry is that Tanner is supposed to be the rational voice of Labor, one of the fellas who’s supposed to convince business and investors they have nothing to fear from the reformed socialists. But here’s Lindsay promising a Labor government will fiddle with the Future Fund and use it as a political tool to muck about public companies. Gee, that’s confidence building.

The immediate reaction would probably be the resignation on principle of David Murray and his board of “Guardians”, leaving Lindsay to appoint a few of Labor’s good old boys. What a shame Bruvver Ducker’s dead.

There’s also the implication that Lindsay will “influence” Telstra to pump out high density city-quality telecommunications for the people of Whoop-Whoop, population 13, including dogs. You wouldn’t’t want to invest in a scheme quite as crazy as that, one more attempt to scare the horses ahead of T3.

Of course it’s impossible to believe Tanner was serious about such a patently stupid Claytons telecommunications policy, but he did say it. Someone should remind him of another Seekers song – The Carnival is Over.

Peter Fray

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