No deals required for Telstra sell off

No deals required for Telstra sell off

It's official. The Federal Government has secured the final seat in the senate which means it can move ahead with the full sale of Telstra and amend unfair dismissal laws without having to do deals with the minor parties.

In fact Prime Minister John Howard doesn't really have to accept opposition amendments at all as the government has the numbers to hold its own in both the upper and lower houses of parliament.

The government was handed control of the senate after Nationals candidate Barnaby Joyce was declared the winner of a crucial upper house seat in Queensland.

For years now the Telstra sale and changes to industrial relations laws have been repeatedly rejected by the Senate but all that will change from July 2005 when parliament resumes.

The Prime Minister's only concern will be his own backbench. A number of Coalition MPs have expressed concern about the Telstra sell-off in the past, particularly members of the National Party.

Earlier today IT and Communications Minister Helen Coonan indicated that negotiations were aleady underway to win the support of the National Party.

Coonan told ABC Radio that meetings were being planned with National Party colleagues to ensure the full sale can go ahead without any hiccups.

She said the talks will highlight the government's commitment to rural services adding that the government is continuing to implement recommendations from the Estens Inquiry into telecommunications services in the bush.

Nationals Leader John Anderson has made it very clear that rural and regional services would have to be "up to scratch" before any sale would go ahead.

"The mechanisms to keep them up to scratch have got to be there and the economic circumstances have got to be right," he said.

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